I’m not quite sure how I’ll update progress, but for the time being, I’ll aim for an update every few matches, as well as the occasional post on recruitment, staff, finances etc. For this first one, I’ll bundle all that up into one post and see how we go. Apologies in advance for the length!
So, Vendée Herbiers Football – Les Herbiers VF on Wiki, so The Herbs, as no-one has ever called them. I’d be lying if I said I’d even heard of them, so John’s probably a bit better placed as manager of Siena. We’re both in the third tier of our respective countries though, so we start in a fairly even position.
Results and tactics
As I mentioned earlier, the board are looking for me to avoid relegation. I’m happy with that, and finishing 14th or above in a league of 18 should be achievable – even if I had to start in 18th after 14 games played.
Being bottom of the league has some benefits – at least I can’t drop any further – but it also means that the first few fixtures are all against teams that are above me in the league. Fortunately, I also had a cup-tie lined up against a team that were in an even lower league than I was.
I’ve lined up a few tactics to try, and these matches were all some form of a hard-working 4-3-3. The results suggest that the players quite like it and, unlike John, I’m more likely to try and find a formation that works for the players I have – mainly, I have to say, because I’ve no real talent at designing tactics on my own.
First up was a match against ASM Belfort who, I realised after the match, were one place above us. A 6-pointer on day one. Two goals from Maxime Thonnel gave us a very welcome 2-1 victory, away from home, on our first day in charge. Literally. I joined the club the day we played.
Next was a home fixture against AS Béziers. Interestingly, wiki tells me that they were formed in 2007 as a result of merging three local clubs. They were dispatched 3-0, with Thonnel getting another goal. I’ll need to keep my eye on him, he looks like a player.
Two weeks into my tenure, and I have a chance to meet one of the board’s initial objectives already. I’ve been asked to reach the 9th round of the Coup de France, and this match, against lowly Saint-Pryvé Saint-Hilaire – another club formed by merging multiple local clubs – was an 8th round tie. Whatever the failings of the previous guy in charge, he had a decent cup run. For the first time since I took charge, we were the big favourites for this game, but we scraped through with only a 1-0 win. Loads of chances and possession, but only 1 goal, courtesy of another of our strikers, Greg Houla.
By this point, our league position is looking a bit healthier. We’ve not quite left the relegation zone, but we’re only a point from safety, in 15th. A win away from home against CA Bastia should pull us to safety, for the time being at least. Our opponents have 33-year old Ivorian, Seydou Koné playing up front for them, and he looks dangerous. Sure enough, he puts one past us, but we open the scoring and that man Maxime Thonnel grabs a very late brace to help us to a 3-1 victory.
Our final match in this update was probably our toughest match yet. A home match against 3rd place USBCO. Franck Ribery and N’Golo Kante are both former players, and their stadium holds about 3 times as many people as ours. Still, we put 2 past them in a very satisfying 2-0 win.
5 wins from our first 5 games, then. That couldn’t really have gone much better, and I imagine it won’t be long before the fans at the Stade Massabielle will be chanting my name.
Our squad doesn’t look too bad, and I’m not desperate to hit the transfer market quiet yet. That said, I’ve identified a decent central defender, 24-year old Robin Lafarge, and I’m hoping he’ll join when the window opens.
Most of the squad are unhappy about training, for varying reasons. Largely, this is due to the quality of staff I have available to me, but it also doesn’t help that, as manager, my attributes are so appalling.
I can’t do much about that right now, but I can try and get some better coaches.
Since I took this screenshot I’ve asked the board to let me have more coaches – they agreed, and I’m now looking for 2 suitable candidates. I also got Florin Răducioiu as a scout, and got a nice new physio to look after everyone’s knees.
We’re £200000 in debt, we’re overspending in wages, and we’re projected to be nearly £1.5m in debt by season’s end. Looks like we’ll be trying to get some young freebies, and selling them on for value.
Next up is the winter break, where I’ve lined up a few friendlies to try and improve the look of our finances – and keep us sharp going into the new year. I’ll skirt over them in the next update and get back into the league and cup next time I post.