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So, the summary of my first season. The tag line would be; 3rd place, lost to Metz in relegation/promotion play off final.
But that wouldn't tell the full story. We had a surprising run in the Coupe, beating the likes of Stade Rennais before succumbing to Racing de Lens in a 3-2 away defeat in the 11th round.
Promotion was in our grasp, even if not as champions, but a sticky run of games towards the end of the season derailed our automatic promotion journey, with something like 2 wins in 5 causing us to slip up.
As we came third we didn't need to play a quarter final, but we did sail past Dijon in the semi final, before losing 8-5 over two legs to Metz who finished 17th in Ligue 1.
My plan of trying to play at least one youth graduate as a starter worked well with Souleymaan Isaak Toure playing most of the games at centre half. Starting the season at 17 years of age, if he continues to nail down a starting berth, he could really become a solid defender for us, even if his passing is a bit lacking.
Our attack was supplemented by the free signing of his Lordship, Nicklas Bendtner. He enjoyed a solid start to life with Le Havre AC, grabbing himself 8 goals in the first couple of months. However my attempt to pull him up over his repeatedly below par training performances resulted in resentment on his part, and freezing him out on my part. We also secured the relatively cheap signing of Hamidou Keyta who could play at right wing and left wing. Hardly a stellar season from him, but solid enough with a reasonable return of goal contributions.
Being realistic, promotion was always going to be difficult at the start of the season, and a first season promotion may have been too premature for the club given its average finances and squad depth. Looking at the positives, a second season in Ligue 2 may actually work out better for us, if it facilitates the better development of my youngsters. I already have the free signing of the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa, who at 34, still looks like he could at least do a decent job to aid our push for promotion.
2nd season; came 1st and promotion to Ligue Un!
Ylan Gomes who spent our first season on loan at our affiliate QRM, returned this season and bagged himself 27 goals, with Jamal Thiare coming in behind on 26 goals
The loan signing of Hannibal from Man Utd was inspired as he weighed in 12 league assists, and combined with the experience of Ben Arfa who proved affective at both right wing (and centre attacking mid when required), we were comfortably home and hosed in first come March/April, with our rivals struggling to keep up, and the title was wrapped up with a decent number of games to spare.
Costinha signed from Rio Ave to play at right back was a bargain as he proved immense, weighing with 10 assists, and alongside Rodrigo Gomes from Braga playing ahead of him in the RW role, they built up a good relationship.
Our young centre half, Toure, continued to develop incredibly well and has gone from being a 2* centre half for our team, up to 3*, and combined with Fernand Mayembo, and another free signing from the summer in Florian Miguel, a left footed BPD who was equally comfortable as wing back, we managed to build a solid defensive unit, which at times allowed us to play very expansive football based around 3-4-1-2 formation.
Not a bad second season that. 👍Just think this story needs a few screenshots here and there as well as bit more writing, has the potential to be a really good story then. But that's just my thoughts. Feel free to reach out if you want some help with anything.
Thanks mate. Yeah I'm just trying to jot down a few bits whilst I remember them right now and then flesh it out when I have a bit more time! Thanks again
So our third season rolled around with us making the move up to Ligue Un. I was apprehensive about our prospects. Our finances started out quite poor but a quick bump of revenue from TV rights moved us out of the red. I picked up the Algeria job after the 2022 World Cup as a way of improving my reputation (hopefully) and to see if I could unearth any gems that might fit into my Havre team, whilst building up a relationship with those players.
We had a lightning start to the season and as the break rolled round in November for the World Cup we were sitting third! I knew it was too good to last, but I could dream.
England won the World Cup, and the rest of the season started. As expected our form dipped and we slumped out of the European spots, only to be denied a Europa Conference League place on the last of the season by Dijon.
Hannibal had shone in bursts, but too many frequent ratings of 6.3/6.4 combined with Man Utd wanting a substantial monthly playing fee, I decided that this season was going to be his last. Bordeaux got relegated so I set to work on securing the signing of Yacine Adli to replace Hannibal. It didn't take much to unsettle him and I managed to secure his signature for the meagre sum of £1.9million!
Jamal Thiare had yet another good season, finishing on 20 goals, whereas Ylan Gomes found it a bit of an adjustment I think. He still weighed in with 15 goals however which I would call a decent return.
We have also secured the free transfer of Hugo Lloris, Joshua Zirkzee and William Geubbells, so here's hoping they can bring a bit of extra quality!
The comprehensive storming of the African Cup of Nations with Algeria, culminating in a 3-0 victory over Mali in the final, with Yacine Brahimi becoming the leading goal scorer for the Algerian National team along the way more than made up for the disappointment of missing out on a European spot.
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