The one with the transfer budget

Season 3 of the Journeyman challenge starts, for me, as manager of Vendée Herbiers Football, in France’s Domino’s Ligue 2. This is worth noting, as it’s VHF’s highest ever league position.

Honestly, I think we over-achieved last year. The club isn’t ready to be playing in Ligue 2, and unless we start to get bigger numbers through the gates, this season could be a disaster. Especially as I want to strengthen the squad and spend (comparatively) lots of money.

So, the season starts with the board offering me a bit of a transfer budget. Honestly, I’m happy with it, and it’ll let me build up a squad that should be good enough to stay up. But what’s that? I’m not getting any wages to spend? Well, how is that going to work?

The answer is, it doesn’t, and I can only recruit a couple of extra bodies. Pre-season sees us leak quite a few goals so we get in a few defenders.

Makan Traoré arrives on a free to give us another option at left-back. Bonnet’s first choice, but this will allow me to rotate a bit. Jonathan Cissé is another back-up option, this time at centre-back.

Florent Perradin (£80k) and Maxence Derrien (£105k) both arrive as first-choice defenders for the new season. LaFarge and Basila occupied those spaces last year, but the latter’s loan ended, and I think these two are better than the former. I also pick up Thomas Manzinali (£83k) as back-up for Alexandre Vardin at right-back although – spoiler alert – he’s already moaning about first-team chances. As you can see, Teddy Bouriaud is back from FC Nantes for another year, and I’m delighted about that.

And that’s the wages gone. Actually, we’re over spending a bit, to the tune of around £3k per week, hence the big list of players that we got rid of.

Since the squad hasn’t been expanded much – not at all, really, since we offloaded a bunch of players – I asked the board if we could get more staff, and thankfully, they agreed. In come a bunch more coaching, scouting and medical staff – all of which are very much needed, as you’ll see below.

To the football, then. The first game of the season is against the team that came up with us last year, US Créteil-Lusitanos. We play them away from home and they beat us 1-0. I’ll be honest, in the run of games we have in front of us, this is one from which I’d hoped we would get 3 points.

But – and I can’t believe I’m typing this – that’s the worst performance in the first three months of the season. Aside from a 2nd round Coupe de la Ligue tie against hipster’s Paris FC, we emerge from August, September, and October unbeaten. 12 matches without defeat!

Highlights of these opening months include a draw and a win against top 5 finishers from last year, Tours FC and Racing Club de Lens; and a draw against Le Havre, who came down from Ligue 1 last year.

At the end of these three months, we’re top of the league on goal difference. Bouriaud currently has the bragging rights over his parent club, FC Nantes, who are two places back, in third.

Anthony Derouard and Sebastian Flochon are early season stars, and feature at the top of the Average Rating, Assists, and Player of the Match tables.

Last season’s heroes (Belloc, Chergui, Ramalama) were doing alright, until Belloc picked up a hip injury, and Ramalama got shoulder knack.

Just as well we bought all those replacement attackers. Ahem.

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