They think it’s all over?

With John winning the Champions League, and me winning the World Cup, I think we can call that a draw.

Only kidding. John was the clear winner here, and congrats to him.

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve already completed season 11, and will post updates here. After that? I think I’ll continue the save, but probably not post on here very often.

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It’s only the bloody World Cup!

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 UpamecanoAntoine 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,
Marchons, marchons!

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.

A France update, and a chance at a trophy

The purpose of this blog is to chart the rise to (hopefully) Champions League glory, but bear with me while I talk you through my first season as France manager.

There are two competitions on the go: The Confederations Cup, and qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

Our qualifying group for the World Cup looks, on paper, to be a relatively simple one – I mean, for French standards; as a Scotland fan, I’d be running scared.

  • France
  • Slovakia
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Wales

First up, in early 2025 are a home tie against Slovakia, shortly followed by a trip to Czech Republic.

Both teams are dispatched 2-0, with Antoine Griezmann and Bruno Carriere scoring in a nervy win against Slovakia; and Kylian Mbappé scoring a double in a much more straightforward victory against Czech Republic.

A couple of friendlies later, we head to Canada and the Confederations Cup.

Our Group consists of Ivory Coast, New Zealand and Canada – honestly, this manager of France stuff is easy – and we progress to the Semi Final stage after winning 1-0, 4-0 and 2-0 respectively. Griezmann and Mbappé are the stars of the group stage and score a couple of goals each across the three matches.

The Semi-Final against Argentina is a nervy one – specifically because one of those aforementioned friendlies was against them, and they pumped us 4-0 – and it goes down to the wire. 0-0 after 90 minutes, 0-0 after 120 minutes, we head to penalties. Where we are victorious!

And so, a final against Portugal – rated #1 in the World (we’re rated #6) – gives us a chance at the trophy, only the second of my managerial career.

But it’s not to be. It’s an incredibly tight match, but our discipline’s all over the shop, and we go down 2-1 to a Portuguese side managed by Jose Mourinho. I can’t really argue with that.

After that, it’s back to the grimy reality of World Cup qualification. The team might be down, but they’re not showing it.

A 6-0 win against Estonia (Paul Pogba 2, Kurt Zouma, Griezmann, Francis Coquelin, Kingsley Coman), is followed up by a 3-0 win (Heidi Camus, Griezmann, Anthony Martial) in the Millennium Stadium against Wales.

It’s the perfect tonic, and we’re all setup for the last four games of qualification.

Oh, did I mention that I’m manager of France now, too?

Towards the end of Season 8, I was approached by the French FA and asked if I wanted to manage them. Of course, my time at Uruguay was so dull I obviously wasn’t going to accept. Errr….

My thinking was that, if I manage the country in which I’m based, maybe I’ll get some high-profile players to like me and that would subsequently make them more likely to sign for Montpellier. I guess only time will tell.

International competitions seem to have changed slightly, over the years. We now seem to be part of some European League, and France are in Division A alongside the likes of Russia, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Belgium, Ireland, England, and Holland.

By the time I take over, there are 3 games (plus a friendly) remaining in the competition, and the FA have asked that we don’t embarrass ourselves. Fingers crossed.

First up is a friendly against Belgium, and we start with the wide 4-3-3 that we’ve playing at Montpellier. To be honest, the players don’t seem that comfortable with it, so a change might be in order, but we emerge with a 2-0 victory, after goals from Rayanne Monnier and Aymeric Laporte.

Next up was a proper match at home to Iceland and we sneak a 3-1 victory. Our 2nd and 3rd goals come in the 81st and 85th minutes, so while the same formation got us another victory, if wasn’t as comfortable as I would’ve liked. Our goals came from real-life players Anthony Martial and Thomas Lamar, and regen superstar Heidi Camus.

A 1-0 defeat to Germany follows next, before a 3-0 away win against Iceland. The Germany game is tight, and they probably deserve their 1-goal win, but I’m not happy with the players’ comfort with the formation, so for the Iceland game, we go to a standard 4-4-2 with very few instructions, and we dominate.

And that’s the end of the European League Division A Group 2 fixtures.

Next season, we’ll be aiming to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.