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After a long hiatus Mark is back with a new story. Where will it take him?

Discussion
How frustrating to finish 2nd.
Hopefully you can get through the play-offs. Fingers crossed!

Very frustrating indeed mate. But think the squad can beat the Czechs; so happy to avoid the Spanish.

Domestically, the win against Rodez was pleasing especially as they’re one of the promotion favourites. My contract is up at the end of the season. Could be stick or twist again depending where we finish in the final standings.

Updates continue to be fantastic mate. Gutted to finish second in that group with that points tally.

Thanks bud, glad you're still following the journey. Yeah as soon as the Danes went down to ten men, I kinda thought we got this but surely there was no Nordic skullduggery going on in the background? Hope we can pick ourselves up and win the play-offs to make the finals.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 24 October 2022 at 11:30

TOUNKARA IS FIVE STAR QUALITY IN THE CUP

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/BvBKL5yp/Coupe-De-France-2022-R6-Result.png

Forward Oumaré Tounkara produced a five star performance as we advanced to the seventh round stage of this season's Coupe de France.

In a game which we had an astonishing 29 shots in the ninety minutes, the former Châteauroux winger dazzled with an individual club record five goal haul in a game.

The scoring was opened in the 13th minute which proved to be unlucky for our hosts. Making his first competitive start of the season in the place of Amadou Coulibaly, Ludovic Wacouboué swung in a cross from the right and Tounkara powered home a header at the far post for his 10th goal of the season. The lead was doubled after 23 minutes, and in similar fashion to the opener: Wacouboué with the cross and Tounkara with the thumping far post header. Two minutes later, he had completed a 12 minute treble with another header; this time from Abdoulaye Koté's cross.

The scoring subsided for a while but we added a fourth in the 64th minute. Enzo Barreau headed down Kévin Rimane's corner and Tounkara drilled home a right foot effort past the keeper. With just 12 minutes to play, the nap hand was completed for the team and for the red hot forward. Tounkara started the counter attack when he picked up an errant corner and then finished it with a swivelled left foot finish. The perfect hat-trick and one that had the small pocket of away supporters purring with delight. An extra special perfomance..

The seventh round draw was made shortly afterwards and this time we have a home tie. Our opponents play in the level below us so will prove the biggest test of our Cup run so far:

https://i.postimg.cc/W3pJMFcv/Coupe-De-France-2022-R7-Draw.png

The tie will be played on Sunday 13 November 2022.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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October 2022 Review

The latest month's action for season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/vm26t8Yx/Le-Mans-Oct2022-Results.png

We began October with a re-arranged game at Chambly. Playing an important Le Championnat game just three days before a Cup match isn't easy and with the Cup team selection rules: well it gets even harder. Thank heavens for having a large squad, eh? We took the lead midway through the first half, midfielder Wassim Mechmache drilling home a fine effort for his first ever club goal. But we lost our way in the second half as they bagged four goals without response to lead 4-1 going into the final stages. We did manage a consolation in time added on though, Grégory Aubert shrugging off a Chambly defender to lash in what was also his first club goal.

After the Cup win we entertained Boulogne in our next league encounter. Thankfully there was no cup hangover but it wasn't a pretty spectacle either with both sides picking up three yellow cards apiece from referee Antoine Grare. The only goal came two minutes from the interval when Amadou Coulibaly, why doesn't he do this more often, crossed on the volley and skipper Mamadou Soro glanced a header beyond the keeper and into the far corner. Coulibaly so frustrates me, one minute he can be brilliant like this then the next he's not bothered. I just don't get it.

So after that we had a trip south to face lowly Marseille Consolat who started the game 16th in the table. Once more I had to shuffle the pack again due to an impending Cup match which probably unsettled the team more. We thought it was going to be our lucky day when our hosts were reduced to ten men, El Moudane seeing a straight red after just 22 seconds! But we didn't take advantage of the numerical and wasted chance after chance after...well you know don't you? Sure it was going to bite us back on the backside wasn't it? And it did when they netted seven minutes from the end, Roderic Flippi dawdled on the ball and the ball was switched to Mascarel who netted with the help of a post. Well if you don't take your opportunities then you gonna regret it, right?

We concluded October with a big game against promotion rivals Châteauroux at their place. They took an early lead in the eighth minute when central defender Matthieu Gans headed in a Munoz corner. We equalised just after the half hour at the end of a flowing move; former Châteauroux favourite Tounkara sent Soro clear. The skipper took a touch and then blasted the ball into the net from close range with home defenders backing off him. Just after the hour, we were in front when Soro crossed from the right wing and Tounkara volleyed in his 15th of the season at the far post. But to be honest they deserved something out of it and a nice solo effort from substitute Steve Jacquier got them a point; he had only been on the pitch a minute! At least we didn't lose..

So this is the end of October standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/gcZ63Pfr/Le-Mans-Table-End-Oct2022.png

Quite an up and down month but we're still in the top two which if it stays this way, will be absolutely superb. Grenoble might have a five point lead at the summit but that means nothing. As the old saying goes, it's a marathon not a sprint. I'm sure they can be hauled back into the chasing pack as long as we stay in touch.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
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Wales Under-21 squad announced for Under 21 qualifiers

Last Updated: 02/11/2022 12:00pm

Wales Under-21 manager Mark Duell has named his squad for their European Under-21 Championship play-off against the Czech Republic.

Goalkeepers:
Scott Reed (Swansea City)
Nathan Evans (Sutton United)
Ryan Ramasut (Derby County)

Defenders:
Jonathan Letheren (Newport County, on loan from Swansea City)
Neco Williams (Liverpool)
Sam Edwards (Swansea City)
Trystan Jones (Cardiff City)
Ryan Astley (Everton)
Brandon Cooper (Burton Albion, on loan from Swansea City)
Jamie Evans (Lincoln City)
Tom McCarthy (Cardiff City)
Ryan Reynolds (unattached)

Midfielders:
Terry Taylor (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Ian Harrington (Stoke City)
Gwyidon Astley (Chester)
Elfion Tipton (Coventry City, on loan from Sheffield United)
Lloyd Holden (Rotherham United, on loan from Aston Villa)
John Eaton (Colchester United)

Forwards:
Matty Argent-Barnes (Bolton Wanderers)
Ian Branch (Cardiff City)
Joe Adams (Bristol City, on loan from Middlesbrough)
Sam Hall (Stoke City)
Issak Davies (Cardiff City)

There's a number of changes from the squad that faced Macedonia and Bosnia respectively. Manager Mark Duell has lost midfield powerhouse Anthony Hartigan, wingers Rabbi Matondo and Brennan Johnson as well as striker Andrew Berry. All four names have been called up for the senior squad for the first time by national team manager Rob Page. It's a tough ask for the young Welshmen that Duell has called upon but if they play as well as they can then a victory over the two legs is not beyond them.
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So a two legged play-off against the Czech Republic to make the Finals.

After suffering anguish at this stage two years ago against Portugal, could we do it this time? Or will lightning unfortunately strike twice against us?.

Friday 11 November 2022
https://i.postimg.cc/wvMTc73r/Wales-U21-111122.png

A tense first leg at home with both teams creating chances but not wanting to give anything away either. The only goal game of the game came with 14 minutes left to go. That happened when the Czechs headed out a Ian Harrington corner out to debutant Sam Hall. He then fed Joe Adams whose low cross was turned in from six yards out by Matty Argent-Barnes. The majority of the 7045 crowd went absolutely bonkers! After that it was a case of parking the bus and ensuring we don't concede an away goal. This we did and we headed into that second leg with a slender advantage.

Could we finish the job?
Monday 14 November 2022
https://i.postimg.cc/7LdY9q7Y/Wales-U21-141122.png

So off to the Czech Republic we headed. However it wasn't in Prague as I thought initially, we were to be playing in Liberec. Liberec is in the north of the country and 67 miles from Prague so indeed on our travels for sure. We had to go into the second leg with Adams who twisted his knee in the dying embers of that first game and with four key players completely then maybe the odds were against us totally. The unfortunate injury meant a debut for John Eaton of Colchester and within six minutes he had repaid my faith in him. The winger powered in an unstoppable header from Issak Davies' corner and silenced the vocal home support. An absolutely crucial away goal.

After that we defended as if our collective lives depended on it. Tackles snapped into, and sheer resolution and committment from the boys wearing the Wales shirt. Martin Havlac pulled one back for the home nation on the hour but we held sway and didn't concede more.

So the pain of Portugal is no more, and we're off to the Finals in Italy this summer. The draw for that will be made next month, and to be honest we fear nobody.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 14 November 2022 at 11:30

SHOOTOUT SEES TEN MEN HOME

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/prqdDzJ3/Coupe-De-France-2022-R7-Result.png

It took extra time and penalties but we are through to the eighth round of this season's Coupe De France.

The opponents never made it easy for us in front of a low crowd at the MMArena, and perhaps that contributed to the nervousness on the pitch. However, we took a 20th minute lead when Serge Aka's well flighted free-kick was headed goalwards by the in-form Oumaré Tounkara. His header was parried onto the post by the visiting custodian but back out to the goalscoring Tounkara who made no mistake at the second attempt. It was an ill tempted affair and plenty of cards on show by the referee. Alas we suffered at that when Wassim Mechmache was shown a red card for two yellows just before half time.

A reshuffle in place to try and see the game out but with one full half to deal with. Predictably they did equalise and it took them just two minutes after the restart to do so. Midfielder Hadj Safi given time and space to pick his spot and fire a low shot beyond Quentin Beunardeau in the home goal. Thankfully this was the only time they would breach us as we held on for extra time. Nobody could then break the deadlock in the additional thirty so off to penalties we headed. It didn't start well when Tounkara blasted our first spot kick high, wide and not very handsome. We needed a hero or two.

Step forward Beunardeau as the boyhood fan saved the next two visiting penalties whilst we scored ours. Then with the visitors making it 3-3 with their final regulation penalty, another hero stepped up to the mark. That was defender Kévin Rimane and he blasted in his kick to secure a eighth round berth.

So who did we draw in round eight? Well it was....
https://i.postimg.cc/rpcvL3kC/Coupe-De-France-2022-R8-Draw.png

An away trip to Ligue 2 and local rivals Angers! Now if we are to make the ninth round; we are certainly going to have to do it the hard way.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Nicely done with Wales!
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European Under-21 Final group drawn

Last Updated: 01/12/2022 12:00pm

The wait is over as Wales Under-21 have found out who they will face in the Finals of this season's European Championships.

https://i.postimg.cc/wTB48rBL/Wales-U21-2022-Final-Group.png

As seen, the young Welsh starlets are reunited with Denmark whom they were in the group stage with. Completing the group are Spain and Scotland but manager Mark Duell is not fazed about being the lowest ranked team in the group:

"So that's the draw then.

We might have got a tough draw but then again there's no such thing as easy when you get to this stage. Every game is like a final, and we know we will have to be at our best to advance. Yet we have a group that works for each other and you can be assured that we will be ready to do the Welsh nation proud.

Cymru am byth!"

The tournament begins on 18 June 2023 when Portugal play the Netherlands in Group A. Wales will play their first game on 20 June when they face Spain, Scotland follow three days later before finishing with Denmark on 26 June. To make the semi-final, they will need to finish either top of their group or be the best second placed nation across all three groups.

Warm up games are to be announced shortly.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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November 2022 Review

Three more games as we head towards the halfway point of season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/3N63CvRw/Le-Mans-Nov2022-Results.png

We started November with a home game against newly promoted Sedan who have enjoyed a fairly reasonable start to life back in Le Championnat. It was an entertaining game to say the least with both sides creating opportunties. After Oumaré Tounkara had a third minute penalty saved; we took the lead ten minutes before the interval when skipper Mamadou Soro played in midfielder Wassim Mechmache who netted with a low finish into the corner. However we would go into the break level when Loris Roy equalised for the visitors on 43 minutes' netting after Quentin Beunardeau could only parry a shot to the attacking midfielder

Either side of the hour we put the game to bed though. First in the 59th minute, Serge Aka literally surged into the visitors penalty area before thundering a shot home for his first of the season. Then almost immediately we scored again, Soro scoring with a confident finish after a cute dinked pass by Amadou Coulibaly had split open the defence. Another confident finish by Soro sealed the deal three minutes from time.

After the exertions of the Coupe De France game, our next game was away to lowly Béziers. However the hosts belied this with a goal after just three minutes play when Kévin Benoit netted. However, the team rallied and levelled in the 22nd. Tounkara scoring from the spot after Enzo Barreau had been obstructed in the penalty area. We huffed and puffed but couldn't get the go ahead goal. It was evident that we were missing Mechmache (suspended) and Soro (back injury).

The month ended with another game at home, this time against a Créteil side who have gotten the better of us in previous encounters. In pouring rain, we were ahead in the 25th minute when Grégory Aubert scored with a nice finish at the near post after Tounkara had fashioned the opportunity for the loanee. The points were secured in injury time at the end of the second half when Sharly Mabussi crossed from the left and visiting left back Wesley Moustache (yes that's his real name) could only head it out to Aka who cracked home a superb volley into the roof of the net. A massive win.

So this is the end of November standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/jdwxqZgn/Le-Mans-Table-End-Nov2022.png

So we remain second after 16 games. Grenoble continue to stay strong and are four points clear at the moment. We're just waiting for them to wobble, surely that's on the horizon right?
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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 4 December 2022 at 11:30

THE DREAM IS OVER

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/ZYyrTdQq/Coupe-De-France-2022-R8-Result.png

The dream is over as we exited at the eighth round stage at Ligue 2 and local rivals Angers.

We didn't make the best start as Gabonese midfielder André Poko scored as early as the sixth minute, sweeping the ball into the net from Chris Gunter's pass. Two goals either side of the halfway point in that first half then put the game beyond as we tried to cause a giant killing. First of all, Edgar Salli scored in the 22nd minute and then Vincent Pajot added the third three minutes later.

Backed by 750 noisy away supporters, we reduced the arrears in the 56th minute. Latching onto a loose ball when his initial cross was headed out to him; left-back Sharly Mabussi hammered in a shot that beat the Angers keeper at his near post. It was his first goal of the season. Yet any hopes of getting back into the tie were dismissed seven minutes later when Poko scored his second goal of the tie.

We couldn't get back into it after that so the dream ends here.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/CLzFLmww/lechampionnatnational.png

December 2022 Review

Two games which take us to the halfway point of season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/bNWWZkyF/Le-Mans-Dec2022-Results.png

Only two games played in December before the league shuts down for a month, might play a behind closed doors friendly against the Reserves to keep the team fitness ticking over.

We were back in league action just six days after the cup exit, playing bottom of the table Vannes live on television. Could we keep the unbeaten streak of winning live on national television? I certainly hoped so as we kicked off in Brittany. Predictably we controlled the game from start to finish but at times it felt like we couldn't finish our dinner never mind chances in front of goal. One of those wasteful chances happened in the 13th minute when a very below par Oumaré Tounkara sliced a penalty kick horribly wide. Shades of his miss in the Coupe De France seventh round. You felt that it was going to be one of those days.

However three minutes after the restart, we breached their defences to score the opener. After some short passing, Serge Aka picked out an unmarked Mabussi who had the simple task to placing a low finish into the net for his second goal in as many games. Jordan Henry equalised for Vannes in the 67th minute; perhaps our wastefulness was going to cost us? Thankfully we got back straight back on the horse and scored the winner almost straight away, Kévin Rimane with a well flighted corner kick and the unpredictable Amadou Coulibaly headed it into the back of the net. Probably the hardest three points of the season so far.

We served up 45 minutes of absolute dross in our other league game against Tours at the MMArena. They scored four times in the first 25 minutes and sucked the life out of the stadium to be honest. Jordan Tell scored a brace whilst Simon Clement and a penalty from Romain Bayard did the damage. I gave them an absolute rollocking to try and garner a reaction out of their crestfallen faces. Well it seemed to work as Wassim Mechmache scored after 48 minutes to reduce the deficit. Comeback on? Er, not quite. We did get a second in the final minute when skipper Mamadou Soro latched onto a Grégory Aubert pass to score his ninth of the season. But it was too little, too late. The only consolation was that Grenoble lost 4-2 to Pau.

So this is how we stand going into the second half of the season:

https://i.postimg.cc/tJgwxzn8/Le-Mans-Table-End-Dec2022.png

Still holding onto second and now only a point behind once runaway leaders Grenoble. However, Tours are starting to click into gear and are proving to be the serious threat to possibly winning the title. Huge effort needed to stay in contention right?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Unfortunately some things never really change....

https://i.postimg.cc/Hx3smBCN/World-Cup2022-Final-Result.png
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/dtgQJhzJ/FIFAWorld-Cup.jpg

Unfortunately some things never really change....

https://i.postimg.cc/Hx3smBCN/World-Cup2022-Final-Result.png

An own-goal and two stoppage time goals, I'd hate to be them!
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European Qualifiers draw made

Last Updated: 04/01/2023 11:00am

The draw has been made for the next batch of the European Under 21 Championship qualifiers.

https://i.postimg.cc/Fs95M6mg/Wales-U21-2023-Qual-Group.png

It appears that the footballing gods have been kind and Wales Under-21 boss Mark Duell is more than happy with the teams his young charges will face:

"I must say I am delighted with that draw indeed.

It's a more than winnable group, and one that we can definitely make some progress from. We're the highest ranked side of the nations involved so people will be expecting us to sail through qualification with no problems. But football has a habit of springing surprises when you least expect them so we know we will have to be at our best to ensure we do indeed live up to the expectations.

What the nation expects, we have to deliver. Make no proverbial bones about it."

The qualifiers begin on 6 September 2023 when the young Welshmen travel to Greece who are expected to be their biggest threat for top spot. Meanwhile the FAW have confirmed that the Under-21 side will face a trip to the Netherlands on 8 June 2023 and then host Poland six days ahead of the latest Finals tournament which they are in for the first time this year.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 5 January 2023 at 11:30

MID-SEASON FRIENDLIES SUMMARY

https://i.postimg.cc/SKXfJmLL/Le-Mans-2022-23-Mid-Season-Friendlies.png

To keep the fitness levels high during the winter break, the team played a couple of friendlies.

The first one was a behind closed doors game between the first team and the reserves, played at the training complex. The scoring was opened after just a couple of minutes play, Amadou Coulibaly crossing from the right and Oumaré Tounkara planted his header into the corner of the net. Just after the half hour, the same two players combined for 2-0: Coulibaly teeing up Tounkara to sidefoot home. The senior side went 3-0 ahead in the 51st minute when Amin Bennani poached home after a spot of pinball in the reserve team's penalty area.

After 67 minutes, the seniors were 4-0 up when half-time substitute Enzo Barreau drilled in a fine finish from twelve yards out. The nap hand was complete two minutes afterwards, Abdoulaye Koté crossed and Grégory Aubert with the strike into the net. The reserves did manage a consolation five minutes from the end when central midfielder Ibrahim Doucoure scored. All in all a decent workout.

The other friendly was at Championnat 2 side Beauvais. Rather than give the first team a full workout, some of the fringe and reserve team members were given the chance to impress the manager. Benjamin Vénté gave the home side a fifth minute lead but the much changed line up equalised in the 32nd; Vincent Créhin crossing for Ludovic Wacouboué to head in off the post. However, we would go into half time 2-1 behind when Evens Joseph struck in the second minute of time added on. With the rain continuing to lash down, we equalised in the 54th minute when Wassim Mechmache steered home a low shot with was his first touch of the ball since entering the pitch as a substitute just moments earlier.

Four minutes later, we were 3-2 ahead when Kévin Rimane flighted in a corner which Ugo Tessier headed down for Zoran Bassong to fire into the net. A third goal in just nine minutes followed after 63 minutes, Serge Aka with the finish. Despite Ibrahima Baldé scoring the hosts third goal with 12 minutes to go, we held on. Another good workout for the squad, and no doubt some food for thought for the manager with Tessier particularly looking useful on the left flank.

Attention now moves forward to 13 January when we resume our league campaign, away to 16th placed Dunkerque.
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Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Apologies for the lack of updates team, been busy with work and all that. Started a new role at the company I work for, just hectic.

Be back soon...
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Hello everyone, I'm back again after a bit of an absence caused by work commitments. I'll be continuing to update as often as I can, so please bear with.

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January 2023 Review

Three games in January as this season heads towards an exciting conclusion.

https://i.postimg.cc/tJypNGR3/Le-Mans-Jan2023-Results.png

Our first game after the league restart was away to struggling Dunkerque, and on Friday the 13th as well. Well it proved to be unlucky for them as we came away the points. We were driven towards victory by a commanding performance by midfielder Serge Aka and it was he who had a hand in our opening goal after 23 minutes. The 26 year old Ivorian saw his goalbound effort ricochet into the path of skipper Mamadou Soro and he lashed the ball into the net. The points and victory were secured midway through the second half. Some great interplay saw attacking right-back Abdoulaye Koté cross and top scorer Oumaré Tounkara volleyed home at the far post.

The following week it was back to being live on TV as we hosted a Quevilly-Rouen side that inflicted a 3-1 defeat on us earlier in the season. Could we continue our impressive run in front of the cameras? We gave a dominant display from start to finish and it pleased me no end. The scoring was opened as early as the 10th minute when Kévin Rimane flighted in a corner and highly rated 16 year old defensive midfielder Amin Bennani powered in a header. We added a second on the half hour when Aka put the ball into the danger area and visiting defender Fabrice Fradin diverted it into his own net. They scarcely threatened all game and we had a comfortable three points in the bank.

We finished the month away to an underachieving Rodez. They will be probably be wondering how they didn't beat us, having had over 20 shots on our goal and the majority of the possession. I'll explain it in two words: Quentin Benuardeau! The hometown hero proved to be a hero for us as he denied the home side time and time again. A third unbeaten game and also a third successive clean sheet for the keeper. You can't ask for anything better really from your last line of defence.

So this is how we stand going into February:

https://i.postimg.cc/vZXg1Xz2/Le-Mans-Table-End-Jan2023.png

It's getting close now with just a single point separating the top four teams. We might hold sway but one slip up could be absolutely devastating for us. Our next game is ironically against second placed Grenoble and if we can take maximum points from it then that could be a massive boost.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Brown turns down Wales Under-21 role

Last Updated: 27/01/2023 12:00pm

https://i.postimg.cc/ZYrDGyjK/Broony.jpg

Former Celtic and Scotland captain Scott Brown has admitted today that he has turned down a role to work with the Wales Under-21 team.

Brown, 37, who retired from playing in 2022 after a spell in Israel playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv has admitted he was flattered by the interest shown in him.

"I have today informed the Welsh FA of a decision that I have made.

Mark Duell, the Under-21 manager, recently approached me personally to become his right hand man and help with the development of the latest crop of Welsh football talents. Having secured my badges, I'm keen as mustard to get into the coaching side of the game but I've politely declined Mark's offer. It was an attractive option but I don't feel ready to take that on.

Maybe in the future things might change but for now I'm keeping everything open."
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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With just 13 games to go, could there be a twist again in this career?

https://i.postimg.cc/bJTpLYCz/Czech-Spoiler.png[

and the current employer's reaction...

https://i.postimg.cc/sgVP0Tgs/Czech-Spoiler2.png
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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So this was the result of the interview:

https://i.postimg.cc/HnPZYS0y/Bohs-Praha-Interview-Result.png

The move to Czech Republic is not going to happen then, which is a bit of a disappointment as I was looking forward to that challenge if I had been successful. With my contract up at the end of the season at Le Mans, I'm not sure if I want to stay in France still. Now if we get promoted and the board make promises that they can afford to stay up then I might just carry on there.

Otherwise it's back to the finding a club which matches my ambitions. That said, Stuart McCall has just been sacked as Rangers manager...now that would be an interesting challenge!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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February 2023 Review

Two home and two away games in February.

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The month began with a home game against Grenoble who were a point behind us in second place as we kicked off proceedings. Surprisingly enough it wasn't the game of the day and not scheduled for live TV which came as a surprise though. We controlled the game from start to finish but were very wasteful in front of goal. If we had taken the chances then we could have quite easily embarrassed them but one goal decided the match and it came in first half injury time. Winger Amadou Coulibaly created it with a ball over the top of the Grenoble defence and skipper Mamadou Soro lashed the ball into the roof of the net giving the keeper no chance.

We travelled to Corsica the week after to face a much improving Bastia, and this was to be screened on television. We hadn't lost on any live screenings going into this game, could we keep this record going? The game was over by 36 minutes as we dominated. The opener came after just 14 minutes when full back Abdoulaye Koté was allowed to proceed into the home penalty area unchallenged and then fire an unstoppable shot into the far corner. Coulibaly created the second in the 25th minute with a well flighted free-kick from the left wing which found top scorer Oumaré Tounkara at the far post and he headed in off the post. Tounkara sealed the win with his 20th of the season with another header; Koté with a superb assist. They were much improved in the second half and pulled one back in the 57th minute when Kenny Rocha Santos netted from the penalty spot but that was as good as it got for the home side.

Game three of the month was a home game against a Pau side that have exceeded a lot of expectations this season with a top seven place at the time of kick off. Once more a dominant first half performance by ourselves saw us take the game away from our opponents. The scoring started after just nine minutes, another quality assist from Coulibaly and skipper Soro took a touch to take it away from the Pau defender before striking a sublime low finish into the corner. Two minutes later, it was 2-0, Serge Aka slamming in a thunderous shot following a superb assist from Coulibaly once more. We added a third in just four minutes shortly afterwards, defensive midfielder Amin Bennani with the assist and Soro with a classy finish. Just after the half hour it became 4-0. Left-back Zoran Bassong created it with a superb cross and Aka arrived to poach it home for his second of the game.

We were on easy street now and it was a case of how many we would score. As it was, we only added one more to our tally. Substitute Sharly Mabussi saw his cross five minutes into the second half look to go into the grasp of the visiting keeper. That was until central defender Bafodé Diakite intervened and sliced a clearance into his own net. Credit to Pau though, they kept battling away despite being on the wrong end of a real beating, and they got a consolation ten minutes from the end when Junior Joachim (no relation to the former Leicester and Villa striker Julian) netted.

The big question; was could we make it a clean sweep in February as we travelled to Saint-Malo? With Koté back in the side after a one game rest, we took the lead after nine minutes. Aka crafted it with a delicious pass that found Soro who brushed off the challenges of two home defenders before angling the finish beyond the keeper. A superb finish. It also proved to be the game winning goal as we defended resolutely under some increased home pressure. So seven games unbeaten and four wins in succession, our best run of the season so far.

This is how we stand going into the final nine games of the campaign:

https://i.postimg.cc/85gSRmYW/Le-Mans-Table-End-Feb2023.png

So all looking good for promotion and maybe to add another league title to my collection. However, I'm not counting any proverbial chickens yet as we could quite easily fall away like Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National. March will be crucial though as we have five games, all are winnable but equally all are loseable as well

In other news, I did apply for the Rangers vacancy but Dave King appointed Derek McInnes instead. Still keeping my options wide open as we stand.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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March 2023 Review

A five game span in March.

https://i.postimg.cc/kgFWymqw/Le-Mans-Mar2023-Results.png

March began with a home game against Chambly who are one of the few sides that have we've struggled against this season, and it felt that way again when Tony Mauricio curled in a wonderful free kick from the edge of the penalty area after half an hour. We deserved to be behind as Chambly were controlling it and the unease of the home crowd was evident. After a half time hairdryer treatment, the lads came out more determined and levelled two minutes after the restart when Serge Aka curled in a beautiful free kick of his own. Amadou Coulibaly had been disappointing and I decided to hook him on the hour, putting Grégory Aubert on in his place. Within a minute that move proved to be inspired as Aubert cracked home a half volley after Mamadou Soro headed a Zoran Bassong cross into his path. However, the lead lasted just three minutes when Samuel Essende equalised for the visitors. Neither side could find a winner, although Chambly came close a few times, and we shook hands on a 2-2 draw.

A trip to Boulogne followed the week after, with the home side playing their first game under new manager Cris who starred for Lyon's defence for nine seasons between 2004 and 2013. However there was no room for sentiment from our side as we set about taking apart the relegation strugglers. We took the lead after just eight minutes when Kévin Rimane saw his corner be completely missed by the home keeper, perhaps he was impersonating a window cleaner, and Amin Bennani headed into the gaping goal. Two goals in as many minutes sealed the points. After 58 minutes Oumaré Tounkara set up Aka to sidefoot home from twelve yards out and then on the hour, a great bit of vision from Abdoulaye Koté on the counter attack saw the defender pick out Tounkara who took one touch before drilling a shot into the far corner. Job done.

The first of back to back home games followed in the next couple of weeks. Marseille Consolat, another side we've struggled with, were the first of those games. We took a lead after just 26 minutes when a good team move saw Bassong crossed from the left and Soro leapt the highest to head the ball into the net. They always looked dangerous and equalised just after the interval when a free-kick was flighted into the area, we switched off momentarily, and Adel Anane took advantage of that to head home. We had been really poor all game, and to be honest a draw was about as good as what we deserved from the game.

Châteauroux were next, and flying when they arrived at the MMArena with them knowing a win could see them replace us at the top of the table. This looked ominous when they took the lead after just three minutes when Valetin Valbaleghem netted an absolute screamer from long range. One way to silence the home crowd, eh? It got worse eight minutes later when Sidy Sarr headed in and there was a real sense of "Oh f**k, what do we do here?" as we hadn't been in that kind of position for a while. I yelled at them to show some passion and it seemed to have some effect seven minutes from half time when former Châteauroux star Tounkara volleyed in from a Kote cross on the right. Could we break their resistance again? We pushed and pushed, and with 18 minutes left on the clock, equalised to sheer delirium in the stadium. Once more Kote provided the cross and this time it was Aubert who provided the finish. An amazing game, and after the start we endured: a point was more than welcomed.

I rested a few key players for the trip to Sedan which finished the month, as well as losing Wassim Mechmache to suspension. But those who stepped in did a grand job indeed and extended our unbeaten run to a club record of twelve. It was a crazy game though with four goals in the first 25 minutes, two for each side. We were ahead after nine minutes when Vincent Créhin whipped in a free-kick which was headed goalwards by Tounkara but Aka made sure from a couple of yards. Maxime Bourgeois levelled for the home side on the quarter hour but we were ahead again two minutes afterwards. Soro was the scorer after Pontdemé parried a Tounkara shot into his path, his first of what would be an incredible evening for the skipper.

They were level once more with 25 minutes played when Cheikh Bangré scored but we would go into the interval ahead with a goal bang on half time. Jules Mendy, deputising at right back for the rested Koté, picked out the run of Soro who brought it down with one touch before dispatching a shot low into the corner. Despite being outshot 2:1 we secured the points with a quarter of an hour left. Another delicious team move ended with Soro completing his hat-trick with a confident finish.

https://i.postimg.cc/25khcK5Y/Le-Mans-Table-End-Mar2023.png

So we're five points clear with just four games left to play. Seven points will mathematically secure us promotion and leave me with a dilemma. I do wonder if the chairman has bought any red and yellow ribbons for the league trophy, yet? Knowing chairmen as I think I do, he will have.

Furthermore I was interviewed for the Idræts managerial role in March, which would have meant a move to Denmark if I had been successful. But I didn't. So we're still in France, although I'm hoping a League Two side will come calling soon and I can start building a reputation in the English leagues.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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More updates to come in the week ahead, can we win the title?

All to be revealed soon....
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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In your hands my man! Go get that league title and promotion
Yeah all in our hands now @Dan - a huge test of keeping our nerves and see it home.

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April 2023 Review

A couple of games in the penultimate month of the season.

https://i.postimg.cc/B6yFvZBZ/Le-Mans-Apr2023-Results.png

We started the month with another live television date; this time playing host to relegation candidates Béziers and were fully expected to continue the charge against them. Well it didn't start as planned when Mickael Rolland arrived at the far post to steer his shot home following a free-kick. Once more a set piece (often one of our own offensive weapons) had been our undoing. But when you need someone to really step up, you get Serge Aka. Two goals either side of half time put us in front and we never looked in danger afterwards. His first came after 36 minutes when he rocketed a free kick from 30 odd yards into the roof of net and then three minutes after the restart, he latched onto a pass from midfield partner in crime Wassim Mechmache to stride on and place a confident shot past the keeper. We sealed the deal and the points with five minutes to go, substitute Sharly Mabussi with the cross and winger Amadou Coulibaly firing home from the edge of the six yard box. With results going our way, we could seal promotion in our next game away to fellow promotion challengers Créteil.

The game against Créteil was to be a huge moment for the club and 94 hardy supporters made the 128 mile journey to see it. It was tense for us but which side would blink first of all. As it happened, it was Créteil with an alarming defensive lapse. With 61 minutes played, right-back Abdoulaye Koté played an aimless ball forward, the home defence just stood there like Madame Tussaud's famous waxworks, and skipper Mamadou Soro had the goal gaping. He duly made no mistake and we had just netted a huge goal. This caused Créteil to wake up but it would also open them up to a possible second. That second goal came with 16 minutes to go and once more it was a defensive horror for the home side. Kévin Rimane sent in the corner, keeper Marc Vidal came for it but got nowhere near it (another keeper trying to impersonate a window cleaner against us) and young Amin Bennani headed into the empty net. We saw them off with ease after that and the promotion party could begin in earnest.

https://i.postimg.cc/hjZpL7V9/Promotion2023.png


https://i.postimg.cc/cLMb2CQn/Le-Mans-Table-End-Apr2023.png

So that's promotion confirmed, Le Mans will be playing Ligue 2 football next season for the first time since 2013. However, I'm not sure whether or not to be around to see it as the board haven't re-opened talks on a new contract yet. My demands will be simple: go full time, and have both a decent wage and transfer budget. If I can get them then I'll stick around for sure.

That said I was interviewed for a new job in Denmark days before the Créteil game with Esjberg but it just didn't fit right so I turned them down. If I can't stay in France then a move to England might be the next destination - League Two or National League (at worst) would be my targets.

The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 22 April 2023 at 12:00

MERCI VINCENT

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After the celebrations of last night, Le Mans can today announce that experienced attacking midfielder Vincent Créhin is set to hang the boots up.

The 34 year old joined the club in January 2016 after a short spell at Amiens and has made over 200 appearances in the red and yellow since. We are forever thankful for what he has done for the Club.

He will retire at the end of the season, and has made no predictions about what he plans to do afterwards. #MerciVincent
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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May 2023 Review

The final two games of the campaign.

https://i.postimg.cc/tT1ptWLb/Le-Mans-May2023-Results.png

Both of the final games would be live on television, starting with a home game against already relegated Vannes where a win would secure us the Championnat title. It wasn't a pretty affair to be honest with the opponents adopting the dogs of war attitude. This made them hard to break down and establish a rhythm to get into our usual fluent play. One goal decided the game and it came five minutes before half time. A swift counter attack saw skipper Soro lay the ball off to Coulibaly who marked his 26th birthday with a calm finish into the corner. We did have a number of chances to extend it further but one goal was enough.So much so that at 10:20pm, a final shrill of Monsieur Eddy Rosier's whistle sparked this:

https://i.postimg.cc/Y90xCqTj/Le-Mans-Champions2023.png


The party went long into the night for sure, but we still had one game left to play. That was to be at Bourg Péronnas whom we had faced on the opening day. With the title now bagged, I decided to give a few rare starts. This included goalkeeper Paul Charrau, left-back Sharly Mabussi, midfielder Enzo Barreau and a final bow for Vincent Créhin before he hangs his boots up. The changes didn't affect the team at all as we finished the season as we started it; with a win. The opener came as early as the 9th minute when Barreau swung the ball out left, Mabussi did superbly to keep it in and cross it with one touch which was met by a clean header from Oumaré Tounkara for his 23rd of the season and the home keeper nowhere near the ball.

Barreau would add the second after 32 minutes, firing home an unstoppable shot that crashed into the net off the crossbar. It certainly took the proverbial wind out of the home side's sails. The coup de grace came with seven minutes left to play and it was an iconic goal too. Another good team move saw Serge Aka head the ball down into the path of Créhin who marked his final appearance for the team with a stunning finish. It was no more than Vincent deserved and what a way to bow out!

https://i.postimg.cc/VNg8cDcm/Le-Mans-Table-EOS2023.png

So we're promoted and champions by seven clear points ahead of second placed Châteauroux. An incredible achievement but how ambitious are the board going to be now I've brought silverware to the cabinet?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/L8TDrKYd/500miles.png


As soon as the title was confirmed, the board made a bold decision. They decided to go professional ahead of the Ligue 2 campaign which ticked one of my boxes and were in the mood to tie me down to a new deal.

However; whilst they doubled the wage budget (which also ticked another box in the contract discussions), they were only going to give me £47500 in transfer money and expect me to lead the club to a top half finish. That wouldn't be enough by a long chalk, and I asked them to reconsider this. Unfortunately we reached an impasse which left me in limbo and almost immediately I was courted by a couple of Ligue 2 sides asking to come to interview for their respective managerial roles. I turned down both Niort and Ajaccio, the latter being the home town of a certain Napoleon Bonaparte, out of respect for Le Mans. I didn't want to see myself jumping ship to a team that was going to be a divisional rival.

I started looking elsewhere and three jobs struck my interest as follows:

https://i.postimg.cc/fWKBjpfw/Whitecaps-Logo.png

One of the most well known names in the history of the MLS. The Whitecaps endured a miserable 2023 season, finishing bottom of the Western Conference. Restoring them to their former glories would certainly be a good challenge especially when you're dealing with franchises such as New York City who have links with Manchester City. Kenny Miller, who has played for both Celtic and Rangers has donned the blue and white of the Whitecaps as well as Jay DeMerit who featured in the Premier League for Watford.

https://i.postimg.cc/2SF6VdfX/Carlisle-Utd-Logo.png

Recently relegated to the National League after finishing 23rd in the season just done with. Moving to Cumbria certainly does have an appeal to me. The club spent just one season in the top division and that was far back as 1975. Since then they have flitted in the lower regions of the English league structure, and 2023-24 marks their first season in the National League since 2004-05 when they won promotion at the first attempt. They are famous for the Jimmy Glass "goal" - remember that?

https://i.postimg.cc/bYxN6HZY/tranmererovers-logo.png

The other of the two relegated League Two sides, and like Carlisle - they have very little in terms of money to spend. Back in their heyday, they got as high as what is now the Championship with a fourth placed finish in 1992-93 being their best ever finish. Three times they made the First Division play-offs with a shot of the Premiership in sight but each time they fell at the semi-final stage. Since then their fortunes have been very topsy turvy and will hope that their latest stint in the National League is a short one.

All three offered me interviews, would any of them offer me the job?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Preliminary squad announced

Last Updated: 19/05/2023 12:00pm

Wales Under-21 manager Mark Duell today unveiled his preliminary 28-man squad for the upcoming European Championship Finals which will be held in Italy this summer. Duell has had to name a much changed squad list due to restrictions placed on him by certain members of his successful squads being declared as too old to feature in the prestigious finals. This means no places for hotshot Matty Argent-Barnes and midfield duo Ian Harrington and Anthony Hartigan. The squad is as follows:.

Goalkeepers:
Nathan Evans (Alfreton Town, on loan from Sutton United)
Scott Williams (Scunthorpe United)
Jack Jackson (Cardiff City)
David Robson (Hull City)

Defenders:
Jamie Evans (Lincoln City)
Jonathan Letheren (Newport County, on loan from Swansea City)
Sam Edwards (Swansea City)
Tom McCarthy (Northampton Town, on loan from Cardiff City)
George Armstrong (Portsmouth)
Stuart Wright (Swansea City)
Josh Hill (Notts County, on loan from Cardiff City)

Midfielders:
Gwydion Astley (Chester)
Lloyd Holden (Rotherham United, on loan from Aston Villa)
Dewi Coates (Connah's Quay Nomads)
Owen Beck (TNS)
Dion Tipton (Bangor City)
Darren Hewitt (Sheffield Wednesday)
Craig Sampson (Cardiff City)
Sion Pulis (Bangor City)
John Eaton (Colchester United)
Cory Bond (Swansea City)
Jordan Conway (Fleetwood Town)

Strikers:
Ian Branch (Cardiff City)
Sam Hall (Stoke City)
Andrew Berry (Bristol Rovers, on loan from Swansea City)
Keith Young (Cardiff City)
Jonathan MacDonald (Swansea City)
Russell Burton (Cardiff City)

The squad will be trimmed down to 23 on 30 May 2023, and will meet up on 4 June. Wales will play two warm up friendlies, away to the Netherlands on 8 June and host Poland on 14 June. Their European Championship Finals campaign begins on 20 June 2023 with a tough looking encounter with their Spanish counterparts.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Rovers unveil new man at the helm


24 May 2023

Tranmere Rovers can today confirm the appointment of Mark Duell as their new manager.

The 41 year old joins us from French side Le Mans where he lifted the Championnat National last season, and boasts a successful career so far which has also seen him pick up silverware in Scotland and Finland.

Chairman Mark Palios is delighted to bring him on board:

"I'm delighted to announce Mark Duell as our new first team manager.

Mark is already an experienced manager and brings to us a career which has already been glittered with honours. He was our first choice and we're happy he has seen us to take the next stage in his career. We feel that he is the perfect man to guide us back into the Football League where this Club belongs."
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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