PSG: That. Just. Happened.By: Brian | November 14th, 2009
With a sporadic (at best) internet connection, I went sort of balls out and wrapped up my first season. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Where to begin? Nice bounced us from the Coupe de la Ligue in the quarter finals. That disappointed the fans and the board. Pity.
Our in-game arch-nemesis is going to end up being Lille or Bordeaux. Lille has Gervinho, who has an incredible knack for using his speed to split our defense and latch onto through-balls. In fact, that seems to be Lille’s entire gameplan. Bordeaux? Bordeaux is just a ridiculously strong team, and beat us home and away 3-2 on post-80th minute goals.
We did finally manage to put one over our real-life rivals, but in an unexpected fashion. Both of our league matches with Marseille ended in 1-1 draws. But ten days after our second match at the Parc des Princes, we traveled back to Marseille for the 11th round of the French Cup. Niang scored late in the first half, but Milevskyi hit a hat trick in the first 30 minutes of the second half and we took the match 3-1.
Overall we lost 6 matches on the season. The two to Bordeaux were the only two matches where we were beaten at our best. We gave Socaux their win, and we came out completely flat in losses to Nancy, Auxerre, and Saint-Etienne. I wasn’t happy at all with our performances in those matches, and I let the players know it, but I know full well that those matches happen. Having said that, unless we win more games next year, 6 or more league losses will be considered a failure.
We also won the Coupe de France, beating Lyon at home in the semifinal and Lille 2-1 in the final. From a managerial standpoint, we would have been better off getting knocked out in the quarters or semis, though. Or at least not playing Lyon. Because of their Europa League commitments, Lyon had our match moved to 3 days before the final, and our match away to Lens was pushed to 2 days after the final, our last two matches at home to Valenciennes and Montpellier at 3 day intervals after that. From May 2nd to our last match on May 15th, we had 6 games, including the semifinals and finals of a cup.
BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT BECAUSE WE WON THE LEAGUE. With 3 matches to go, we were 6 points ahead of Marseille. Marseille, at that time, was in the midst of a 14-match all-competition unbeaten streak, and all of their league matches were victories. We held up our end of the bargain, though, and clinched with a match remaining. And then our reserves thrashed Montpellier 3-0 (and Koné FINALLY scored).
Marseille got the last laugh, though, in case that unbeaten streak didn’t tip you off.
Somehow, Marseille, a team that couldn’t even beat us once, won the Champions League. They beat Bayern Munich in the first knockout round, lucked into Anderlecht (!?) in the quarter final, got past Arsenal in the semi final, and beat Juventus in the final. Unbelievable. Now we have a goal and the motivation to achieve it.
As for the players, van der Vaart and Milito refused to stay and ran back to their seats on the sidelines (or, more likely, the stands) in Spain. vdV did manage to have the most assists in Ligue 1, just beating out Yoann Gourcuff.
Gourcuff is my unicorn, I think. He is perfect for how I manage, and I’m pretty sure I will pay any sum to have him on my squad. I doubt I’ll ever have the budget or the stature to get him.
Makélélé performed more than admirably for us, and he was probably one of the 3 most valuable players on the team. He managed 2 goals, but really he was the engine Zizou always knew he was. We performed better with him in the lineup, but his age and deteriorating stamina and physical skills made substitutes more necessary. From February to the end of the season, he only played the entirety of a match twice. I’m going to keep him around, and he’ll still be captain next season, but I really don’t expect him to see the pitch often. Hopefully I’ll convince him to join the coaching staff at the end of the year.
Our MVP was undoubtedly Artem Milevskyi. He was Ligue 1’s leading goalscorer, with 32, and bagged a ridiculous 38 in 40 appearances. His best performance came in a rainy 6-3 home win againts Saint Etienne, when he scored 5 goals. I don’t know how much longer I can keep him before a larger club comes calling. Hoarau was next on our scoring chart with 21, and then Erdinç with 14.
Our defense still needs work. Milito never really seemed to care, and at times Bertucci told me he was having trouble motivating himself to play for me. In the rare matches where he did try, his skill was quite evident, but on the whole he wasn’t what I’d hoped for. Otamendi and Tolói are still too untested to be paired confidently with Sakho. And so I’m still looking for a center back. I’ll list transfer targets in a bit, but my preference is for someone with some pace. Sakho isn’t the fastest, and at least one of the two has to be able to track down attackers racing through the line. And I have a problem at full back, only this time it’s on the right side. Ceará put in some great performances, and won Ligue 1 player of the month for May. But he doesn’t offer enough in the attacking third to make up for his shortcomings at the defensive end, where wingers and full backs were all too often able to run by an early and foolish challenge and cross into the box. As a direct result of that, most of the goals we allowed came on crosses. Jallet’s performances were worse, even though he probably has a better delivery when it comes to crosses. We also need someone to replace Coupet, preferably starting this season. He might have another good year left in the tank, but I think his performances would peak at “good.” I’d like “great.”
Before I get to targets, I mostly kept my word about not using those funds the board gave me for anyone new. Until it became pretty clear that vdV and Milito wouldn’t be willing to stick around, anyway. But once I saw him, I couldn’t resist. Meet “the next Riquelme,” Armando Contreras:
If he’s not a regular by the time he’s 20 I’ll eat my hat. The rest of my purchases weren’t purchases, per se, but rather free transfers. We’ll be adding Sebastián Blanco:
We also will be adding Marouane Chamakh, who chose us over Lyon. Lyon made an offer to buy him in January, and, after doing my best Will Smith “aw hell nah” I offered him a large contract and key role. I never thought we’d even get him, since his agent said he wasn’t interested. But he picked us (and still scored a winner against us after the deal was agreed). I’m not sure what that says about his character, but if he puts in a decent half or full season and gets sold, so be it. Money’s money.
I’m still trying desperately to get rid of Giuly, Luyindula, and Kezman, who make over €150,000 a week combined. Kezman will never play for me, Luyindula will fill in only in a dire emergency, and Blanco is basically a carbon copy of Giuly (but 10 years younger). I’m thinking of selling Ceará and Jallet, too. They’re both 29, clearly not the long-term answers, and neither was able to do enough to make me think that they will hold the position down until Daeseleire is ready (which may be an “if” and not an “until”). I refuse to accept that Ceará’s player of the month award was anything other than a fluke.
As for possible targets, Hart is available for €3m, but his eccentricity worries me. I really don’t want to futilely yell “for the love of God don’t do that!” over and over again. I don’t have prices on Akinfeev or Muslera. At right back, Anyukov and Srna seem like my best bets at the moment, but it’s still early. I might consider a younger guy like Diego Renan and let him fight it out with Daeseleire. And in the middle of my defense, the best two options right now are both Brazilians. Miranda will cost €10-12m, Luiz half that. The issue right now is that I don’t have any non-EU spots available. I can sell Ceará to free up one, loan out Mateus for another, but Otamendi and Tolói are holding onto the other two. If I can find enough acceptable EU defenders I might be willing to loan out Tolói.
Any other players to search out or squad recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Also, re: the format of all of this, I’m pretty sure my match recaps read like “you should have been there” stories, and I’m currently lacking the skills and the bandwidth to regularly upload video. I’ll try to learn how to do that, but in the meantime: should I do a post per in-game week (not including friendlies)? That’ll be difficult if only because I’m too involved in the managerial aspect of the game to take good notes in game, and pausing it every minute or two to make sure I record what just happened. Pre-season, pre-January window, post-January window, end of season? That seems like every post would be some tl;dr thing like this. Something else? I want you guys to enjoy this, if that’s at all possible, so I’m trying to gather how you’d like me to get to that point.