BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
Author's Note: Hi, this is my second attempt to write a story to accompany a Football Manager save of mine. Unlike my previous attempt, this one will be a little more relaxed, so don't be too disappointed by the lack of detail. Also, since you don't know me very well, don't expect this save to actually last more than the first season or two. That's not my style.

https://i.imgur.com/t9v1boj.png


So, why did I choose Le Havre AC? Google. This is my first save on FM21 and I wanted to just say "screw it" and try something out there. I searched for good teams to manage, and without any explanation whatsoever, Le Havre was suggested.

I have never done a save in France before. Sure, I've attempted a couple. Started at Lyon and Monaco thinking it would be a nice challenge, but I never progressed beyond the first couple of days. It was something about the squads, and the setup there. It seemed too easy.

So here I am at [Le] Havre AC, some team in the second league of a nation that doesn't really interest me.
Johno
14 years ago
1 week ago
2,630
Premium
They are not bad team to start with! Good luck!
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
@Johno thanks, and I'll try to keep the story interesting!

Pre-Season
With the qualities of this French team a complete unknown, I thought it would be best to start with an intra-squad friendly against our B-Team.

https://i.imgur.com/6ILX9zb.png


Le Havre AC 4-1 Le Havre AC 2
My first match on Football Manager 2021 was an eventful one. We won a penalty in the 7th minute, that Jean-Pascal Fontaine missed. Ylan Gomes put the B-Team ahead in the 20th, but it was less than a minute later that Alioui had the ball in the back of the net. Ruled out for offside. Two minutes later and he scores for real. On the brink of half-time, we won another penalty. Again Fontaine steps up, and again he misses. Alioui saved our blushes, however, by scoring just before the whistle went.

The rest of the game was pretty smooth sailing thanks to Arouna Sanganté getting himself sent off early in the second half, and I made sure Alioui took the resulting penalty, securing the game and his hat-trick. With the whistle between the referee's lips, it was Nabil Alioui again who made sure the result was well and truly cemented.


Le Havre AC 0-0 FC Groningen
Clearly as shocked as I was by the action-packed opener, the second friendly turned out to be a snoozefest. Khalid Boutaib had two goals ruled out in what was otherwise a properly boring match.


Le Havre AC 2-1 Niort
By this point one of the best players on my team, Alexandre Bonnet, was exhausted. Unfortunately for him, this was his testimonial match. Starting on the bench, he was forced to watch as we went a goal down after half an hour, before Alan Dzabana equalised just before the break. Nolan Mbemba struck a beautiful shot from distance to win the game for us late on.


Le Havre AC 2-0 FC Lorient
We closed out the pre-season with another win, as first Bonnet, and then Himad Abdelli, scored in the second half to make it a decent start to the save all-round.
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
Author's Note: I feel like this is the right time to introduce the squad, now that I have the free time required to sort out all these screenshots. However, spoilers currently don't seem to be working, so for now I've linked the profiles to the player names. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Squad
With initial budgets off, I'm making the most of the team given to me for now, and I have to say that despite the lack of quality depth in central defence, it's actually not a bad team at all.

https://i.imgur.com/yNDU0KD.png



Goalkeepers
Mathieu Gorgelin is definitely first choice and a solid one at that, but I'm already starting to prefer the younger and almost as capable Yahia Fofana. As a goalkeeper myself, I'm excited by his potential and look forward to developing him further.

Right-backs
Pierre Gibaud is one of the best players on this team, and yet Woyo Coulibaly has been doing almost anything he can, including defying his mediocre attributes, to earn his way into the first team. Gibaud hasn't been making things easier for himself either, having been distinctly average so far.

Centre-backs
Ertugrul Ersoy has been a beast, arguably the best player on the team, and as Vice-Captain his name is usually the first on the team sheet. Already wanted by Standard Liege, he pairs up with Fernand Mayembo the most often. This is currently, however, the extent of quality in this position, and reinforcements will be needed as soon as possible. For now, we have Souleymane Issak Toure filling in from the 2nd Team, as well as Arouna Sangante on occasion. Both have outstanding potential at this level.

Left-backs
On paper, Umut Meras seems to be the best player in the team in terms of actual quality, reflected through his outstandingly solid attributes. Unfortunately he is struggling to adapt to my current tactical philosophy, and that originally meant Yacouba Coulibaly had plenty of chances to earn his place in the first team. What neither of them could have predicted, however, was the incredible standout performances of Ayman Ben Mohamed. As a Bayer Leverkusen fan, this guy reminds me a lot of Daley Sinkgraven; perhaps better-suited to central midfield, but seems to be finding better form playing unconventionally as a Complete Wing-back despite his lack of defensive ability.

Central Midfielders
For the most part, Jean-Pascal Fontaine stands alongside Victor Lekhal in midfield. The two make a solid partnership both on paper and in practice for this level. Occasionally, in the absence of better options, Fontaine will be played on the right wing and Nolan Mbemba will take his place. Basque has been underwhelming. The previously-mentioned Ben Mohamed can also fill in here as a playmaker.

Wingers
Alexandre Bonnet is easily the best left-winger at the club, but will need replacing at the end of the season, since Hervé Bazile isn't anywhere near good enough. Himad Abdelli is one of the most talented players in the team and often features out on the right, since my tactic doesn't accommodate for a CAM. When rested, Fontaine fills in from central midfield, since Alan Dzabana and Quentin Cornette aren't giving me any reason to mix things up just yet.

Forwards
Poor Khalid Boutaib. Signed on a free transfer in the summer, not to realise that the new manager really doesn't like using Target Men! Practically exiled from the start, he's only got to feature in a small number of games and hasn't done well anyway. Our two main strikers have been the legendary Jamal Thiaré, and his sidekick Nabil Alioui. Together they currently have 13 goals in 9 games this season, a tally equalled by the young Ylan Gomes for the 2nd team who provides cover from the bench. We also have Godwin Bentil available in the 2nd team if we need him.
Johno
14 years ago
1 week ago
2,630
Premium
Sounds like you could have went playing golf during FC Groningen game 😀 Not bad pre season overall 👍 Hopefully you will carry that form against Auxerre and Toulouse!
Kilian Ward
1 month ago
1 month ago
1
Premium
Oh wow... just signed up here and looked into the careers section and what do I see? The crest of my hometown club. Le HAC is very much a second tier side having spent many years in the top tier of French football. There is one cup win as a second division side in 1959 and three national titles in 1899, 1900 and 1919 (USFSA... not FFF). Anyway it is well known for its very productive academy that has seen many international players in underage teams and on senior level ... after moving on from the oldest club in France. The sky blue and dark blue colours pay tribute to students from Oxford and Cambridge involved in the founding of Havre AC in 1872.

Enjoy it!

Allez le HAC!.... Allez ciel et marine.
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
@Kilian Ward Wow no pressure on me then! I hope I can do your local club proud! Didn't know any of that but since I'm from near Cambridge that's very interesting to me!

August 2020
Going into the competitive season, I had a fairly good idea of who I could rely on. Some of the players I didn't think would be starting performed well, and so I felt confident that we could potentially fight for a position in the promotion playoffs. The players agreed.

However, I was far less confident in my tactic. We'd been playing a sort of adaption of the Wing Play default, and while it had been working in theory and in terms of results, I didn't like what I was seeing on the pitch. I wanted something that hit harder on the counter, to suit the pace we had in abundance.

For now, at least, the team sheet looked like this:

https://i.imgur.com/WJx7ynU.png


Le Havre AC 8-2 AJ Auxerre
Two goals down inside of 15 minutes. Jamal Thiaré pulls one back, but then Victor Lekhal gets sent off for a horror tackle. Surely the game is lost? Don't go anywhere, ladies and gents. Thiaré is not done yet.

https://i.imgur.com/3mm0Quo.png

Forced to play alone up front, Thiaré finds himself on the end of every long ball forward. Using his blistering pace and clinical finishing ability, he dispatches 6 of his 8 shots on target, sealing the game beyond all doubt. Truly a legendary performance from our number 14!

Numerous records were broken with this first competitive fixture, including that of the highest-scoring match in the league and the most goals scored in a match by a Le Havre player, the previous record being just 4. I was living in a dreamland, and partially concerned that the new Match Engine might be broken. It took a couple more games for me to realise this was perhaps not the case.


Toulouse FC 1-1 Le Havre AC
The first away match of the campaign came against recently-relegated Toulouse FC, who I think we all recognise as the developers of Issa Diop and Alban Lafont. We put up an impressive fight considering the media predicted them to win the league, and only considered us good enough to come 5th.

https://i.imgur.com/9ltBBY6.png

Woyo Coulibaly stood in for the injured Pierre Gibaud and scored the opener, before they equalised through Koulouris with a goal that frankly I felt Gorgelin should have done better with. Nonetheless, we graciously accepted a point from what I assumed would be the most difficult fixture of the season on paper.
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
September 2020
Le Havre AC 2-0 Amiens SC
Ben Mohamed fills in on the left-wing for the injured Bonnet and scores after just 5 minutes! Nabil Alioui put us comfortably ahead just before half-time, and the second half continued in the same sort of threatening fashion. We should have finished more chances but in the end we can't complain with another three points.

https://i.imgur.com/FWNYCA8.png



AS Nancy 1-1 Le Havre AC
Our pattern continues with another 1-1 draw away from home. Once again, Ben Mohamed came in clutch for us from the left-wing to cancel out Bertrand's first-half volley.

https://i.imgur.com/IqjOxqs.png



Le Havre AC 3-1 Stade Caen
Jamal Thiare put us ahead quickly before Umut Meras struck a thundering long-range volley off the post and in. His second came in similar fashion early into the second half; another volley, this time inside the box from a corner, that was weaker but still managed to beat the keeper. An error from Pierre Gibaud then allowed Sery to take our clean sheet away from us. Bonnet marked his return from injury with an impressive performance this game as well.

https://i.imgur.com/8meGmoU.png


Author's Note: It's around this time that I was getting into the save, and thinking about making it an FM Story. Thanks for your patience so far, in the future I'll be able to have live table updates and so on, since I'll actually be publishing my progress as I go instead of playing catch-up like I am now.
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
October 2020
AC Ajaccio 1-1 Le Havre AC
Despite a good start and yet another dominating performance on paper, we once again met our match away from home, taking a third 1-1 draw in a row on the road. We weren't clinical enough, and will have to start changing things up for away games.

https://i.imgur.com/IkvrGxX.png

It took just 5 and a half minutes for Alioui to slice open the opposition defence with a killer pass, and Jamal Thiaré was at the end of it to tap past the keeper. Unfortunately we suffered a similar fate in the 24th minute, when Bonnet lost his marker and allowed them to break us apart on the flank. The shot was a tame one that bounced in off the post, and Fofana might have felt he could have done better.

Our disappointment was compounded by an injury to Umut Meras, although it turned out to be less serious than first feared.


Le Havre AC 3-0 Troyes
Another confident and dominating performance at our home ground, Ben Mohamed filled in at left-back for the injured Meras and scored inside 11 minutes with a stunning volley from the edge of the box, quickly becoming his signature finish.

https://i.imgur.com/UcqNmQU.png

Early on in the second half, a cross from Ersoy was badly misjudged by opposition goalkeeper Salmier, allowing Nabil Alioui to calmly tap in at the far post, before Abdelli sustained a serious injury that would keep him out for the next 2 months. Gibaud combined with Thiaré late on to close out the match.


Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa signs for Le Havre AC!

With the transfer window over, and the restricted window now open, we had a chance to sign a free agent and I made sure we pounced on Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Released by Olympique Lyonnais over the summer, we parted with less than €20k in agent fees and sign-on bonuses to secure his signature. Since he is now the second-best central defender at the club on paper, we awarded Mbiwa the #15 shirt and agreed to pay him €4,500 a week.


Paris FC 0-3 Le Havre AC
Rather controversially, Yanga-Mbiwa spent his first game at Le Havre on the bench, as I opted not to change up what had so far been a very successful defensive partnership. Ultimately the decision paid off, with Ersoy and Mayembo both putting in outstanding performances to keep our first clean sheet away from home, albeit against 18th place Paris FC.

https://i.imgur.com/SZPygXJ.png

Nolan Mbemba struck from 30 yards out after just 15 seconds, setting a new club and league record for the fastest goal. Alioui then latched onto a long ball forward from Bonnet to make it 2-0 after less than 13 minutes, before Martin added insult to injury for the hosts by getting himself sent off. No stranger to what could happen when a team goes down to ten men, I told the lads to concentrate and keep up the pressure. Ten minutes later, Gibaud surges into the box and draws a late tackle from Mandouki, allowing Fontaine to score his first goal of the season from the penalty spot.

I congratulated the players at half-time and set us up to play carefully and retain possession for the remainder of the match. A tempting free-kick from Fontaine threatened to find its way through but for an interception, and Laura found himself through on goal in the 86th only to be denied by an impressive save from Fofana. The whistle blew on our first away win of the season.


Le Havre AC 3-0 FC Chambly
We like three-nils! Ben Mohamed helped us there again with, yes you guessed it, a thundering effort from just inside the box following a corner.

https://i.imgur.com/URbjWVt.png

Slightly more impressive, however, was Ersoy's goal from an identical spot just after half time, as he met a cross from Gibaud to half-volley a stunning effort into the top corner. Crowd in awe, we closed out the game shortly after when Ben Mohamed's long ball forward found the run of Alioui. His weak effort was saved by the keeper but unfortunately pushed into the path of Thiaré, who slotted into an empty net.


FC Sochaux 1-4 Le Havre AC
Eager to keep momentum running away from home, I set us up to play a little more defensively and counter-attack aggressively. This resulted in an xG of 5.15 as every member of the team played their socks off until the final whistle. Ironically though, it was our work on set-pieces that proved to be most important.

https://i.imgur.com/tSnZv2w.png

Following the first corner of the game, an ambitious shot from Gibaud deflected off Thiaré to put us a goal ahead after less than 4 minutes. Another corner from Bonnet found Mbemba on the edge of the box, enabling him to rifle home a neat half-volley that goalkeeper Prévot could only watch.

This was repeated in the second-half but this time Prévot was able to get down and stop Mbemba's attempt. Unfortunately, Fontaine was waiting to pounce on the rebound. Mayembo then suffered a knock and this gave Yanga-Mbiwa the chance to make his debut appearance for the club. Unfortunately for him, the occasion was quickly marred by an error from defensive partner Ersoy that allowed Niane to break through on goal alone and pull a goal back for the hosts. We managed to win a penalty that was claimed by youngster Ylan Gomes, and unfortunately had his decent attempt saved by Prévot, but finally managed to put the game to bed from yet another corner, this time taken by Fontaine and worked nicely around the box until Victor Lekhal drove it home from the edge of the area.


League Table
Going into November, we hold the top spot but it's far from comfortable. We can't afford any slip-ups, and unfortunately, one might be on the way.

https://i.imgur.com/p4gWo5Z.png


Upcoming Fixtures
In November, we'll host fellow overachievers En Avant Guingamp. It's important to note that they are coming in off the back of a month of easy fixtures, and I had the pleasure of attending their latest win at home to La Chateauroux, which they won 3-1. That and my scouting reports have suggested their success lies in being solid at the back, and we'll have to work hard to leave the match with more than a point.
https://i.imgur.com/YvidN6O.png

We also visit 13th-placed Rodez, before ending the month by hosting 5th-placed Grenoble Foot. Should be an exciting month!
BanOly
6 years ago
1 month ago
36
Premium
November 2020
Before we could proceed with the big match against Guingamp, I was asked if I wanted to postpone the Rodez game due to missing several key players on international duty. Yacouba Coulibaly and Nolan Mbemba would be unavailable, as well as Fernand Mayembo who was already sitting out the Guingamp match due to an accumulation of bookings. Feeling confident we could secure victory with the remaining players available to us, I opted against the delay.

Le Havre AC vs. En Avant Guingamp
https://i.imgur.com/nTEFjMw.png

I wanted to include this, as it perfectly sums up the differences between us and Guingamp going into this game. This is truly a battle of the league titans - the most aggressive, clinical attack in the league, against the most quiet and impenetrable defence in the league. For me, this would almost certainly be on of the biggest and most important fixtures of the season.

I took the decision to rest Umut Meras for fitness reasons, so Woyo Coulibaly started in his place. There was a first start for new signing Yanga-Mbiwa who replaced the suspended Mayembo. Nothing of interest happened in the first half, and while I had in part expected this, I was still desperate to use the half-time team talk to get the lads firing on all cylinders.

The second half opened up and we went for it; a powerful driven cross from Coulibaly aimed at the far post ricocheted off Fontaine and Alioui before bobbling unceremoniously across the face of goal. Thiare was unable to win the race to the free ball and it was booted clear. From the resulting corner, Ersoy climbed highest to meet the cross but his header aimed directly at the keeper was saved on the line.

Soon after, Mbemba gave away a free kick that was expertly whipped into the bottom corner, and if it hadn't been for a fine save from Fofana, we'd have been trailing. Coulibaly then allowed Ngbakoto too much room on the edge of the box and his shot fizzed across the face of goal. The tides were starting to turn against us, so I called upon Ben Mohamed to give us a little extra from the bench. We created one last chance - a long ball forward on the counter towards Thiaré that was intercepted at the very last second - before submitting to the inevitable.

https://i.imgur.com/6WCq5HZ.png


Rodez AF 1-1 Le Havre AC
The absence of several key players permitted a rare opportunity to Herve Bazile, since we were forced to play with Bonnet out on the right wing due to Fontaine struggling with fitness. Nonetheless, a well-rehearsed set-piece routine ended with Woyo Coulibaly hitting top bins from outside the box, giving the keeper no chance.

https://i.imgur.com/QIhC9SH.png

Early in the second half Alioui took advantage of a seemingly total breakdown of communication from the opposition defence, before being brought down by a questionable tackle. Nothing was given and the ball rolled away to Bonnet, who was then also brought down heavily! Play still going, Alioui was back up to pounce on the free ball and launch one last run at goal, but the keeper closed down the angle well. Two minutes later, the referee blew for a penalty but it wasn't for us - Ersoy, already on a booking, had shoved someone to the floor. Fortunately he escaped a second booking, but Sané made no mistake and converted from the spot.

Level once again, Ruffaut had an ambitious long-shot scrape over our crossbar and we were given one last chance to win the game from a corner, but Gibaud was sloppy with possession and lost the ball. Left to regret the decision not to postpone the game, I'm once again back to taking 1-1 on the road.

Le Havre AC 1-1 Grenoble Foot
It's a month of score draws as our return to earth continues. Opportunities were going spare for us this game, but we failed to seize them and deserved to be punished for it.

https://i.imgur.com/LK7IsFH.png

We went into the game switched off, and that allowed Grenoble to swiftly take the lead. They caught us on the counter-attack with a long ball through to Henen. His shot was blocked by Woyo Coulibaly but fell kindly to the unmarked Djitté who slotted confidently into the bottom corner from the penalty spot, leaving Fofana helpless. Fontaine surged forward in the 32nd and his cross was met in front of goal by Alioui, who was left with a simple tap-in.

14 minutes into the second half, Mbemba saw his long shot barely pushed onto the post by opposition keeper Maubleu, before Thiaré rushed in from an offside position to tap in the rebound. With the goal ruled out, I switched in some fresh legs but this did little to improve our efforts in front of goal. Our final chance came in extra time, as Bonnet's pass met Thiaré on the byline. Instead of working himself into a better position or squaring the ball, he attempted the shot from an impossible angle and struck the post, summarising our evening.

As the final whistle blew on a month of supreme disappointment, I began planning ways to bounce back from the winless streak inspired by that Guingamp clash.


League Table
We were living the high life, and our heads were in the clouds. Now we've been brought back to reality and will have to fight to reclaim that top spot. Auxerre extended an olive branch by holding themselves and Guingamp to a point apiece, ensuring the top three spots remained close.

https://i.imgur.com/KUCXu0R.png


Upcoming Fixtures
We've a busy schedule leading up to Christmas, averaging a match every 4 and a half days. This is partly due to our first Coupe de France tie against complete unknowns Croix. In the league, Clermont and Valenciennes hover mid-table, while Niort and Chateauroux are fighting to avoid relegation.

https://i.imgur.com/G8EdFeW.png

The target will be... 10 points.
KEZ_7
14 years ago
20 hours ago
1,843
Great start to this, did a save with these a little while back and really enjoyed it. Real soft spot for JP Fontaine because of it

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