Towards the end of our first 10 league games, our form started to slip and, unfortunately, it’s kinda continued into the second 10 games, and up to the end of the calendar year.
An inconsistent run of games against OM, Bordeaux, Monaco, Lyon and Stade Rennais aren’t great, but then we hit a patch of form (or lack of it) that sees us pick up only 3 points in 5 games. Particularly hard to take is a 6-1 defeat at the hands of league strugglers LOSC. I’ve no idea what happened, but I’m blaming want away captain Clément Lenglet.
Lenglet had been angling for a move – to Stoke of all places – and I’d refused to budge. He took the huff and his morale plummeted, and I think it started to affect the rest of the squad. Not only was he our captain but he was also a pretty decent left-back so I was loathed to leave him out. But this form couldn’t continue, so I took the armband off him, relegated him to the reserves and sold him for £12m in the winter transfer window.
That same transfer window also saw us lose our star man, Hilton. He left for Stuttgart for a cool £31.5m, and so we were able to recruit a few players, ensuring that – hopefully – he’ll not be missed.
In the end, I recruit four midfielders to bolster the centre of the park. Alexander Díaz is an 18-year old Colombian with 4.5 star potential and who was as cheap as chips.
Steven Kamphuis is the great white hope, and at 22-years old and costing £10m (rising to £20m) he goes straight into the first team. And then gets a hernia injury. Admilson Cardoso is a carbon copy of Kamphuis and will likely replace one of our exisitng midfielders in the first 11.
Finally, Mattia Franchini is a 24-year old who comes into the team as the 2nd best midfielder at the club.
The cup competitions are going well – except the Coupe de France. Board expectations were for us to reach the 11th round, but we went out to Monaco in the 9th, in what was a very close 1-0 defeat.
The Coupe de la Ligue (which I believe is the lesser of the two French cups, like the SKOL Cup) is going well. We’re into the final, having been expected to reach the semi. Hopefully by the next update, I’ll have a trophy to showcase!
The Europa Cup form continued after the first couple of games, and we qualified for the knockout stages with two games remaining. The only game we lost was at home to AC Milan, where they won 1-0. As a result, we finished 2nd in the group, and went into the first knockout stage, and a game against Sunderland.
We should win that, shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t we? Yeah, we should.