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11|02 MATCHS ALLER: Stade Rennais Enjoying Life With Wolf

Welcome to my Football Manager 2020 blog. In this latest instalment of my journey with Stade Rennais I'll be reviewing our matches up to the end of the calendar year.

SeasonEleven.EpisodeTwo | Matchs aller

Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 blog with Stade Rennais. If you missed the previous post, you can catch up with everything that happened, here:

Read more » 11|01 PRÉ-SAISON: Oliver Jensen Steps Down, but It’s Not Over

September 2029 – December 2029

My first transfer window was a little bit amateurish. We sold our goalkeeper to Liverpool before bringing in a replacement, which meant we faced Lyon (and lost 4-0) in our first match. The mistake, fortunately, didn’t set us back too much. But it meant I had to up my game in the market.

The Business Side of Stade Rennais

When I was manager of Stade Rennais I didn’t really look at the finances or involve myself with the business stuff. I left pretty much all of this to the previous Director of Football. I hadn’t appreciated just how high our wage bill had become. Granted, we are the current Champions of Europe, however, the money coming into the club doesn’t justify this spend.

Stade Rennais wage bill 2024-2029
Stade Rennais wage bill 2024-2029

To be fair it wasn’t really my responsibility to keep an eye on the wage bill. I identify weaknesses in the squad and ask my Director of Football to sign the players I had identified. However, with this approach, what I had missed was that almost every player had a similar clause.

A typical Stade Rennais player contract
A typical Stade Rennais player contract

A wage increase after reaching 5 international appearances. I had seen this clause activated in many players of the years. This became apparent when a lot of my youth players started to get international recognition at the same time. The surge in wages above identifies this period. I spend the next 20 minutes reviewing every player contract to check on our exposure.

  • Jacky Rault: €190K » €250K

He was the last of the chosen few. Our exposure is low, but a lot of players have automatic wage rises each year. I don’t like this type of bonus. I’ve settled on what I hope will be a good basis for new contract negotiations. I will try to cut out all automatic wage increases, including annual and after international appearances.

Negotiating Player Contracts

Speaking of annual wage increases I had not realised just how much extra that can end up costing you over the life of a contract. Recently, I offered Aleksandar Nacev a new deal. The 20-year-old wonderkid had two and a half years left on his deal and his status rise in the team meant that I didn’t want to get into a position in the summer where teams are bidding and he only has two years left on his contract.

He wanted a basic wage of €110,000 per week, but a 10% annual wage increase. This would mean over the five-year deal, his basic wage cost would increase from €28.6m to €34.9m over the life of the contract. Txiki was giving these wage increases to all the players so over time our budget has increased exponentially.

His current €47k per week deal would cost us another €4.8m if we let him run it down. The bonuses attached are small and we are not tied into any increasing wage clauses. However, the new deal requested from his agent would have cost us in the region of €48.4m over five years, assuming all bonus targets are met.

I needed a quick way to make sure that I was negotiating a better deal for the club, while also giving the agent a satisfactory offer. So I built a quick calculator to allow me to compare the cost of the requested contract with one that I negotiate with the agent. With clauses being a key part of the contract I wanted to know what a landmark goal bonus, for example, would actually cost the club.

The first thing I need to do is work out how many games the team is expected to play over a season so I can work out how many matches I expect the player to take part in. This is a simple calculation.

At Stade Rennais we could play up to 60 games a season. We are expected to reach the finals of the cup competitions so it’s a long and hard season.

Based on the player status, a player can expect to play anything from 5-95% of games. Nacev, for example, wants an important player status, so we expect him to be in 90% of games.

This is important because most contact requests will include an appearance fee and an unused substitutes fee. So we can assume that this player will play in 54 matches, with 6 he is potentially unused.

I work out his expected goals and assists based on previous seasons and what I expect of him so we can work out goal and assist bonuses.

In the end, the result looks something like this.

With some safe assumptions, 50 games and 20 goals a season, we think this contract request will cost us in the region of €48.4m over the five-year term. It is a lot of money for us, but this player could be a star, and given his €76m cost to us, he should be one of the better players in years to come.

My goal, now, is to negotiate this contract down to somewhere closer to the €40m total cost. I think this would be somewhere I would willing to meet the agent. It’s a huge cut, around 16%, but if I can offer the agent a bigger upfront fee then I hope that he will be more willing to ask his client to sign the deal.

In the end, we agree on the original wage, remove all automatic wage increases, and a total cost over the term at about €40m so pretty good business, I think. If he scores a lot more goals then while he gets the bonus for this, it also benefits the team.

After scoring a hattrick in his first game after signing the new deal, time will tell if this was a bad move.

Given this is my first real high profile contract renewal I’ve done for a few (IRL) years, I think there are a few more tips and tricks I can learn, but for now, this was a good starting point. If you have any advice for me, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

What this does do, however, is increase our annual wage bill further. We spend about €3.3m per week right now on wages plus bonuses, so I will be looking to try to get this under €3m if possible. This will take time, I know, but it’s important for the stability of the club. To do this we will sign players at a lower reputation and sell players who demand too much money from us.

There are 67 players at the club right now with a basic wage totalling €2.8m per week. A few will be out on loan, but worryingly we have 12 regular starters, six important players and one star player. To be this seems a little imbalanced. So I will need to monitor to see if we need to change some statuses.

The Recruitment Team

You’ll remember last time out I set about undoing all the work of Keke Duran and clearing out all his shortlists. I now have my own rules and my own players populated in these lists. I needed to refine them slightly as I was being delivered players with values far exceeding what I was willing to pay.

With a new €50M cap on player value, the lists are looking a little but more realistic.

I am not looking to do any business in January, but you never know what offers we might be getting for our players. We have a few players for each of the positions in the tactic identified so we have options should we need to go into the market. Whether we can get those players, however, is another matter.

Having a look at the players out on loan, we have a lot of really good players developing at other clubs who could easily come in and do a job for the team. I think I need to sit down and work out which of these players are good enough for the first team next season so I can start to plan the summer movement ahead of time.

Ideally I would like to get player movements decided early so if we need to go into the market we can do that early on and give Hannes his new players at the start of the preseason.

In terms of player developments on loan, I’ve recalled Alex Calero from Le Havre as he just wasn’t getting any game time there at all. I would prefer him to play in goal for our second team rather than have no matches. He is going to be our number 1 in a couple of seasons so I need him to be developing in these crucial years.

Alex Calero
Alex Calero

The Coaching Team

It’s going to take some time getting used to this.

One of the biggest issues I’m noticing at the moment is a lack of rotation from Hannes Wolf. He stubbornly keeps to his starting 11 and rarely deviates from it.

I used to rotate a lot as a manager, so could afford the squad statuses that we had. However, I need to keep on top of the playing time and squad statuses a little better because there are players becoming unhappy with their game time and they’ll likely be sold or loaned out next month as a consequence.

Hannes has switched between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 in games. I’ve not noticed a pattern for when he uses each formation, but based on some analysis he seems to go with the following.

Nothing too controversial here, but we only really have the one player who can play in the AMC slot, so we will look at the players coming back from loan this summer to see if they’re good enough, but this seems to be a position we need to make sure is stocked for the new season ahead.

In terms of results it really is business as usual.

Aside from the two early losses in January, Hannes has taken Rennes undefeated for the remainder of 2029. This includes all cup and Champions League matches. Rennes certainly do not miss me. I guess this is a good thing. I can concentrate on getting him the best players available while he concentrates on getting the results.

In the Champions League we have been exceptional, scoring 19 and conceding just two goals. It’ll be a different story in the knockout rounds, for sure, but on this evidence, Wolf knows how to manage a football team.

Champions League Group B final table
Champions League Group B final table

In the league it was a familiar story. After the 4-0 defeat to Lyon in the opening game of the season, we went on to win all but one league match, a 0-0 against Toulouse.

As I have alluded to, Hannes doesn’t like to rotate it would appear. As a result Tomislav Duvnjak has been refusing to sign a new deal since the start of the season, which means he is free to speak to other clubs as of tomorrow. We will lose the €15m rated defensive midfielder after this season, unless we can find someone to sign him from us this coming window. It’s unlikely.

It also means that players such as Jacky Rault will be heading out on loan, if we can find any suitors.

I’m going to have to assess my approach to transfers now and ensure we only have a set first 11 with the right squad status, with all others outside his preferred XI with a rotation status. Because that’s all their going to get, it would seem.

Aside from that, to say we were looking good value for another league title if we can keep up this form.

Thiago Almada has been an inspiration, finishing runner up to Mbappe in the World Player of the Year votes, too. Ayari has been excellent in front of goal, as had young Nacev before a torn groin against Sochaux ruled him out for a month.

The league table up to the turn of the year. It’s like nothing has changed.

And that brings us to the end of this update. We have an interesting january ahead of us. I’m expecting to keep everyone together to give Wolf a season with this squad. I can then assess properly who he plays and who we need to let go.

Spurs in the first knockout round of the Champions League. I’m excited to see how this save goes from here.

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

As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, or via twitter @fmfutbolmanager.

Until next time, à tout à l’heure.

Oliver Jensen

2 comments

  1. Hi Oliver, well done.
    Sorry for my english, but i’m french!!! lol

    How do you calculate the maximum salary by player status with the season wage budget ?
    for a star player, importatnt player, regular player, ect.., how much percentage ??

    Thx

    1. Hey Spixie.

      I don’t really have one for each of the player statuses. I just have a feeling of how much they should be paid. I’ve never really calculated an amount to be the most.

Please leave me a comment below.

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