One Man’s Journey Through France: IV

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, we’re back again with the fourth instalment of Julien Girard‘s managerial career as he makes his way through French football. I’ve reached the midway point of the second season of this save, so its time to update you on how things are going. Last update, I covered the pre-season and the first seven games of the Championnat de France Amateur. Julien is still managing Sporting Club de Schiltigheim in Strasbourg after being turned down by the hateful SC Sedan Ardennes in the Championnat National over the summer break between Season 1 and Season 2. As a result, I said that I believe Julien will have become increasingly loyal to Schiltigheim – for taking him back without question – to go along with his growing tactical pragmatism. What’s more, just after I posted the previous update, Schiltigheim approached Julien to sign a new contract, one which Julien negotiated down to the smallest possible amount – in order to assist the club’s growing financial issues – before signing a 1 year extension to remain at the Stade de l’Ar until 2019. What’s more, I also managed to sign a better Assistant Manager in Quentin Boyard – what a name – who has retired from playing in order to join Julien’s staff at Schiltigheim.

As far as I can see – the rules in game are not clear – the rules of the Championnat de France Amateur are similar to the Championnat de France Amateur 2, in that one member of the league is automatically promoted, whilst members of the other Amateur leagues go into a playoff system to determine who is promoted to the Championnat National – the league that Sedan Ardennes are in, and the league Julien wants to take Schiltigheim into. But anyway, back to the Championnat de France Amateur. How have we been doing?



One Man’s Journey Through France: III

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, we’re back again with the career save of Julien Girard. I have started to play the second season proper of this save, so this update will cover the Summer of season 1, and the beginning of season 2.  For those keeping count, Julien is now 27 years old. Last season, we were managing Sporting Club de Schiltigheim in the CFA2-D, the fifth level of French football. Those of you who have read the last update will know that we began the season poorly, but after switching to a 4-1-2-3-0 strikerless system, stormed back into the promotion picture. However, we still only sat 3rd going into the final day, one point from second and three points from top. Of course, we went on to experience a ridiculous string of events – I’m sure this could only have happened in Football Manager – that led to Schiltigheim finishing top of the league, and achieving automatic promotion to the Championnat de France Amateur. I also discussed the effects I think this first season would have had on Julien, feeling it would have made him more pragmatic as a manager, focused on finding what works for his players at any given time, rather than a set system of play à la Guardiola.

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 16.37.12In the last update I also hinted at the possibility of Julien leaving to join a new club in the Championnat National. As you can see to the right, Julien was in high demand over the Summer, with two clubs in the Championnat de France Amateur after him, and the other from the Championnat National – the 7-1 odds. This team was SC Sedan Ardennes, and I wanted this job as Julien’s next step. Sedan are a former Ligue 1 team – as recently as 2006-7 – and are sortof of a fallen giant. They certainly do not belong in the Championnat National, and I felt this would be a perfect project for Julien, and would only move him slightly to the east from Schiltigheim in Strasbourg.


One Man’s Journey Through France: II

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05I told you I’d be back didn’t I? Well, I’ve completed the first season of our good friend Julien Girard’s career, managing Sporting Club de Schiltigheim in the Alsace region of France, neighbouring the German border – hence the Germanic club name. We’re in the Championnat de France Amateur 2 – D, and we’ve played one roller coaster of a league season. Those of you who have read the first update will know that things started off really badly for Julien, with tactical confusion, and only one win in his first seven games as a manager. However, Julien eventually managed to turn things round, discovering a counter attacking 4-1-2-3-0 strikerless formation that garnered an upturn in form, leaving Schiltigheim 3rd in the league table after 13 league games played, level on points with FC Metz Reserves, but 5 points off US Sarre-Union at the top of the table.

The rules of the CFA2-D are that the champions progress directly to the Championnat de France Amateur, but 2nd placed finishers go into a playoff to determine who will be promoted from the various regional leagues. So things had clearly improved, but we weren’t home and dry yet, and I was still only expected to finish in the top half, even when I was offered a new contract by the club, keeping me contracted in Schiltigheim for an extra year. Of course, this is all despite me being given good odds to be sacked by the press. Thanks. Oh, and the club helped me out by paying for Julien to attend a training course, so Julien now has a Continental C License. This left Julien’s attributes looking like this at the end of the season, but more on that later.

So, things had been steadily improving until the mid-season break, how did Julien fair in the second half of the season? Did Schiltigheim manage to make that push for promotion to the Championnat de France Amateur?


One Man’s Journey Through France: I

So, we’re back…. again. My training year to become a fully fledged History teacher has finished, and so I’ve finally got more time available to play Football Manager again. See, my priorities are totally in order. I’m back with a new save, and one that I think is going to be a very interesting project of saves moving forward through several editions of Football Manager. I also think it’s going to solve my inconsistency with saves and my inability to truly immerse myself with the club I’m playing. I’m going to be doing something called ‘One Man’s Journey Through….‘. The idea of this is that it’s the story of a manager and his career in a single country. In that sense, it’s a journeyman save, but focused on one country (at least for now). As a result, the immersion is focused on the manager himself, rather than the club. The theory is that we start at the bottom of club football in a given country, and work our way up, changing clubs when the correct opportunities present themselves. As the title quite strongly suggests, this version of the story is going to be set in France. To do this, I’ve downloaded a database that gives me 5 levels of French football, going down to the Championnat de France Amateur 2. This can be found here.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, meet Julien Girard, our manager for this save.

I’ve gone fairly in depth with Julien and created more of a ‘profile’ for a manager than I usually would have for my own. Julien is a 26 year old (DOB: 16/09/89) Frenchman, who was born in Grenoble, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, a city that has a strong winter sports tradition – being situated just need the mountains – and has been called the ‘Capital of the Alps’. Julien is also a childhood fan of Saint-Etienne, formerly the most dominant club in French club football, and therefore counts them in his favourite clubs. His preferred formations are a diamond and a 3-5-2 with wing backs and a sitting midfielder. I’ve tried to remain realistic with his profile and therefore I have attributes that are suitable for the level of football I’ve chosen to start at. Here are Julien’s attributes. Also, 10 points to anyone that can spot which well known former French footballer was used for Julien’s face model.


North Of The Wall

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48So, those of you that follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey) will have seen that The Tactical Annals is back, and I’m finally back playing Football Manager. I apologise for my inactivity lately. Those of you who know me well will know that I’m currently in my training year to become a teacher, and through the school term I really struggle to find the time to play FM properly enough to write about it. I’ll have the odd dabble with old saves, but I don’t want to revisit any of those on this blog months down the line when you’ve all lost interest.

However, I’m now back with a fresh new save for the blog, and I’m going somewhere I’ve never really managed before. As you can probably tell from the title of the article, I’m in Scotland, north of the border. Beyond the wall. I’ve only ever managed briefly in Scotland before with Falkirk in FM13 (I think?) before this blog even existed, so it should be a fun save to explore Scottish football in Football Manager. I also have to credit Iain Macintosh, Alex Stewart and Matt Stanger for making me take notice of Scotland in the game again via the FM17 Project.

1577So, who am I playing with? Again, those of you that follow me on Twitter will already know, but I’m in the Highlands with Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Why Inverness? Well, they were predicted to finish mid table in 6th in the first season, so it provided me with a nice challenge, and I also really like their logo. Who needs deep reasons to manage a club on Football Manager? As so often happens on FM though, I’m starting to quite like Inverness. I’ve already played the first season of this save, so we’ll be starting from Season 2, but I’ll quickly go through what happened in Season 1.


Draft One

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Right let’s get started. 3-1-4-2 DM. In case you didn’t read the last update, I’ve joined the Community Formation Experiment over on the Sports Interactive tactical forum. The premise of this challenge/experiment is simple – formations don’t matter. In theory, base formation’s aren’t important. It’s the interpretation of those formations that makes the difference, and they can all be interpreted in many different ways, and in the end they all become unique. The challenge is to take whatever formation you draw, and turn it into a viable tactic.

I randomly drew 3-1-4-2 DM. That’s a back 3, a defensive midfielder, a midfield 4 and two strikers. An interesting formation with plenty of challenges, but definitely not one of the most challenging formations. There’s some horrible base formations in Football Manager if you take the time to look. All members of the experiment are also required to play as Sassuolo in Italy. This update will cover the first observation I did of the tactic I drew up as a first draft, and what positives and negatives I saw in the tactic’s first match against OGC Nice of Ligue 1 in France.

For reference, here is the tactic I’m kicking off with. If you have any questions about the tactic itself, please feel free to ask. Any details on why I chose certain roles are in the previous update.


Changing Things Up

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48It’s time for something a little bit different. When I first broke through onto the FM Scene, I did so doing tactical pieces only. This can be seen in the early articles on this blog, such as the Central Winger articles, the Mjallby 4-1-2-3-0 and the defensive 4-1-2-2-1. As time has gone on, I’ve started to focus more on the story of my saves, and taking inspiration from other people across the FM Community. This is obviously something I’ll continue with, as it helps me immerse myself in the save I’m actually playing, but at times I feel like the focus I initially had on tactics has been lost.

It’s for this reason that I’ve signed myself up to the Community Formation Experiment over on the Sports Interactive forums (a forum I regularly lurk on, but rarely post). The premise of the experiment is simple. Everyone who enters is randomly allocated one of the standard formations within Football Manager, and your challenge is to create a viable tactic using only the formation you’re given. You can change roles, duties, team shape etc, but the formation itself must remain the same as the one you were given at the start.