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02|02 MATCHS ALLER: Punching Above Our Weight

Welcome to the latest instalment of my journey with Stade Rennais F.C. Last time out, I took you through preseason, up to an including the end of August. In this update I'll be reviewing our matches up to the end of the calendar year.

SeasonTwo.EpisodeTwo | Matchs aller

Life in charge of Stade Rennais has so far been kind to me. My squad is getting there in terms of understanding how we want to play. The players are generally happy. Our scouting is going well and the new board just keep on giving me money and saying yes to my demands.

September 2020 – December 2020

Here’s what has been going on at Roazhon Park over the last couple of months.

SEPTEMBER 2019

After a perfect month in August where we kept out every team we faced, we got a little too comfortable and the Champions League put us firmly back in our place.

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Marseille are expecting to be up there challenging for second place, so to beat them 2-0 was fantastic. However, that’s where the fun ended.

The Champions League introduced fresh problems for me and my relatively small and young squad. There was no way we were going to compete with FC Bayern, Barcelona, or Inter Milan, so I had to rotate to ensure the league remains our priority as we were never going to get out of that group alive.

In the league, however, we should have done better. The 13 goals conceded in 5 games a symptom of over-rotation and a drop in form by some of our key players. I decided to concentrate on a core 11 and keep them playing, while also making a slight tweak tactically.

OCTOBER 2019

It worked. We got back to keeping clean sheets, and rather remarkably, against PG, too.

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Metz and surprise package Lorient were both there for the taking, and honestly, we should have won by bigger margins there, but wins are wins. The draw against Barcelona was one of those games where if the situation was reversed, I’m not sure what damage I would have done. We were battered, they had 37 shots to our 4, but it was the 26th-minute Hunou goal that put us in the lead. Frenkie de Jong quickly equalised, but no matter how hard they tried, Barca couldn’t get the winning goal.

The PSG match was surprisingly even. A draw probably would have been fair, but I’d take that win any day!

NOVEMBER 2019

Back down to reality with a bang in November as the draws started to pile up for us.

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However, can we just talk about that Barcelona win? This one wasn’t so one-sided, 21 shots to our 7 this time. We were fantastic and ‘keeper Edouard Mendy getting man of the match tells you everything you probably need to know about the game.

The loss against FC Bayern put us back in our place, but the league table started to look a bit more respectable.

DECEMBER 2019

December started as the previous did with a match resulting in more dropped points.

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The final Champions League match, a 0-0 draw against Inter Milan earned us another €900k and took our points total to 5, which when you consider the group it relatively respectful. I’m happy with what we’ve achieved here as I don’t think anyone would have expected us to pick up too many points from the group.

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Back to the league, however, and it was another five points dropped. Stade Reims and 19th placed Nímes took more points off us this month as PSG opened up a 9 point lead at the top.

But let’s be honest, this isn’t about chasing down PSG, it’s about keeping up with Marseille, Monaco and Lyon. We’re holding our own at the moment, and given only the top three get into the Champions League, being 7 points ahead of Monaco already is a great start!

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(Click here for the full table)

On the whole, the team are performing well. Adrien Hunou and Amine Gouiri are forming a nice partnership upfront with 14 goals between them. New signing Jérôme Onguéné has settled in nicely and played 16 games so far with a 92% tackle success rate, but alarmingly has made 15 mistakes.

Exequiel Palacios has also made a great start to his career creating almost a chance a game and 3 key passes per match.

Overall, things couldn’t really be going any better. We’ve overperformed in the league again, and while the Champions League was disappointing, avoiding the Europa League means we can fully concentrate on our domestic matches.

My next post will be a short one covering the January window.

As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!

Until next time, à tout à l’heure.

Oliver Jensen

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