France are the 6th best team in the World, and I’m their manager. I must be doing something right, but it’s definitely not related to my ability to win domestic – or even European – trophies.
The 2026 World Cup takes place in Canada – in real life, this has still to be decided, but I’m sure they fancy their chances.
We’re drawn in Group D, alongside USA (16th in the World), Belgium (10th) and Uruguay (11th) – who I previously managed.
After a successful batch of warm-up friendlies (Belgium, 5-1; Northern Ireland, 2-1; Mali, 4-0), we line up against USA in fine form.
There are a few players upon whom I’ll rely throughout this tournament – Paul Pogba (Captain), Heidi Camus, Kingsley Coman, and Rayane Monnier all seem like World beaters.
We go into the USA game playing the same (or similar) formation that my Montpellier team used in the closing stages of what was, ultimately, an unsuccessful season. So, a kinda 4-3-3, with a holding midfielder.
It seems to work. We win 2-1, but our goals come from a cracking free-kick (Monnier) and an opportunistic strike (Anthony Martial) following a calamitous error from the USA defence. So it’s a win, but it’s not entirely convincing.
Next up is a game against a Belgium team featuring Romelu Lukaku (Captain), Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. The young stars still playing, 10 years into the future.
The tactic stays the same, and we’re 2-0 up after 11 minutes. Unfortunately, Kevin George gets sent off after 21. Belgium pull one back just before the break, and another midway through the second half, but our earlier goals from Coman and Martial give us a 2-2 draw.
Our final game of the group is against Uruguay. When I managed them, I got them to the final of the Confederations Cup, where we were defeated by Portugal. That tie went to form, as Portugal were the better team; I’m hoping the same is true here, as we’re 5 places better than them in the FIFA rankings.
Uruguay will be wondering what could’ve been, or some other cliché. We beat them 1-0 in a match we dominated. 26 shots to Uruguay’s 7 suggests it could’ve been more, but we’re into the Second Round, and a match against Italy.
The media are calling it a grudge match, but they’re 13th in the World, so I’m not worried. Although, it is Italy. And they do take a 2-0 lead early in the second half.
When that second goal goes in, I bring on Paul Pogba – foolishly rested because he was so knackered after the Group Stage – and we score 3 goals in 10 minutes. Dayot Upamecano, Antoine Griezmann, and Pogba himself with the goals.
France goes wild.
The Quarter Final brings a tie against Nigeria – currently 17th in the World. Another easy game, surely. Hmmm.
0-0 at Full Time, and goal-less during Extra Time. This is not ideal.
Fortunately, Nigeria are rubbish at penalties, scoring only 1 of the 4 we allow them to take. Aymeric Laporte misses for us, but Montepellier legend (I gave him his first cap) Jeando Fuchs scores the goal that takes us to a Semi Final, against Germany.
And this is where it ends.
Well, that’s what I’d usually say. This time though, our European neighbours are no match for this maruading French squad. These heroes; these légionnaires; these hommes forts français!
Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Sorry, got a bit carried away there.
Kylian Mbappé and Camus score the goals in what was, to be honest, a lucky 2-0 win. Germany were all over us, and it was the most nerve-wracking game of Football Manager I’ve ever sat through.
My nerves were to continue into the final. Against England.
I’ll let the pictures tell the story.