SeasonNine.EpisodeFour | Dernière ligne droite
Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 blog with Stade Rennais. If you missed my previous post, you can catch up with everything that happened, here:
The way we left things in January pointed to another Stade Rennais title. Has the league chase lost its edge? A little bit. PSG, however, are fighting back.
Here’s how we got on.
February 2028 – May 2028
We were comfortably ahead of PSG in the league at the last checkpoint. Their performances had improved a bit, but they weren’t as ruthless as they usually are and were leaking goals all over the place.
Here’s how the rest of the season unfolded.
Whatever they’ve added to the water in Rennes, well, I hope they keep adding it.
So many games to get through in February. A Coupe de France quarter-final which we only just scraped by against a rejuvenated RC Strasbourg Alsace, lead by Vincent Kompany, who was sitting fifth in the table at the point we played them. We also had the small matter of Manchester United in the Champions League and despite former turned current player Schmitt scoring against his current (turned former?) employers, we couldn’t find another way past David de Gea. United levelling with a penalty, obviously.
February was a tough and busy month and saw us pick up a few injuries. By the time the game against PSG came around, we were eight points clear of them. But having a goal difference of +18 over them it was effectively nine points. Worryingly, our top goalscorer in the league is one of our central midfielders, Jacky Rault.
Schmitt was a good signing for us as it takes the reliance off the midfielders for the goals, as his form in February since he signed has shown. Due to being exhausted when he arrived (I guess all those reserve team minutes were tiring) he had to sit out the first few matches to get his condition back up, but when he did start, he hit the ground running! I missed those powerful shots.
It’s usually about this time I talk about a Champions League exit and how disappointing that was.
Seriously, what is in the water here?
The league games we would expect to win, although weakened sided against Caen and Saint-Étienne almost cost us. If Jacky Rault wasn’t so damn good from the spot it could have been very different, but that little result in there against Manchester United. That’s the focus this month. Totally out of the blue. Gilles Schmitt biting the hand that sort of feeds him (we’re paying a chunk of his wages).
It is usually Manchester United who are the team who knock us out, who we fear facing. Not today! Today we are the team to fear. Such an emphatic result has given me a little seed of hope that we might actually go all the way.
No, impossible. Is it? Here are the goals from that game. You love to see it!
A very tough month but we show what we’re made of!
Where do we start?
Let’s just jump right in at that result at home to Liverpool, shall we. I really don’t know what to say about tit. After bringing Schmitt back to Rennes, Ayari had been left out of the squad. I guess he had a point to prove. I don’t think I’ve had a player score 5 in a match before at Rennes.
We had a big match against PSG and the draw pretty much confirmed our title win. It meant we were still 10 points clear with just a handful of games to go.
Given the lead we held over Liverpool we were comfortable sending a weakened team out so that we could concentrate on the league to finish that. We were beaten, but it was worth it as we followed up with a couple of good wins in the league! We lost our final league match against Toulouse, but not before collecting the Coupe de France cup again.
Down to the final three league games and with the league already in the bag, we could nurse the team through the month ahead of the Champions League final. That’s right. We beat Real Madrid 3-0 at their ground to advance to the final which was to be held at Old Trafford.
We advanced through the league matches with little to be concerned about. Three wins and no goals conceded. We were in excellent form and more amazingly, we came through it without any injuries.
The Champions League Final
It was out first Champions League final in our history. But AC Milan were the favourites with the bookies. They had been in excellent form throughout their season, as had we to be fair, so it was due to be a cracking match.
I’m not going to go through the whole Champions League final again, if you want to review it, you can do so here.
Needless to say, that result is going to take some getting over. We had so many good chances to win the game, but Schmitt was a wreck all game. His body language right until I took him off was nervous. Probably cost us the match.
This summer, serious work needs to be done to keep this squad together but also strengthen to make a push next season.
I’m writing this about 20 minutes after that Champions League final loss. I’m probbaly going to stay on for another season to make it 10, but I will see how I feel after the weekend and whether I need a new challenge.
It was another great title win. Disappointed to lose the Champions League final which takes a shine off the season.
Another season finishes well in the league but we fall short in Europe again. Especially after that run to the final, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid beaten, we should have done better. Maybe we have one more season.
Thanks for following along with my save this year!
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.