I’ve got a new job and it’s a big club, it’s a chance for me to build my reputation. However, the Champions League victory in 1993 means they won’t count towards my challenge- it is a fantastic opportunity though and one I’m keen to dive straight into.
I’m greeted by the news that Dimitri Payet, being the massive snake he is, wants to move to a bigger club and we’re also lacking for options at striker and left-back, something I’ll prioritise in the summer. I’d also like a top-quality central midfielder but I’m pleased my squad fits into my preferred tactic – the 4-1-2-3 I enjoyed great success with at Leeds.
First up is Ajaccio in the cup, a side I’m told is performing above expectations. The pundits predict that it goes all the way to penalties but I’m hoping otherwise, I don’t have the nerve for that. I’m English, after all.
I’m delighted with a 3-1 victory and we draw national side Strasbourg in the quarter-final. In my first Ligue 1 match, a Lucas Ocamps penalty gives us a 1-0 win against Auxerre and our next match is against PSG, who’ve just clinched the Ligue 1 title. It’s a thrilling game but we lose 5-4, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang snatching a late winner.
A trip to Nice follows before the international break and we win 1-0, this time benefitting from a late goal. Following the break we clash with Strasbourg in the cup and immediately fall 1-0 behind, with things getting worse when we’re reduced to ten men before half-time. We lose 2-0 and I lay into my side.
After being reduced to nine-men against Angers we lose 1-0, again with another late goal, and Payet reinforces his desire to leave. Fine, I tell him, I don’t like snakes. We then draw 0-0 with Toulouse and 2-2 with Lille, putting us 12th with three games left to play.
Our poor run continues with a 3-0 loss to Guingamp and we end the season with a fantastic 6-2 victory against Lyon, followed by a 2-1 win over Sochaux-Montbe. We finish the season 11th, four points off the European spots, and I’m preparing for a lot of changes during the summer.
My initial budgets are set at £1.4m p/w in wages and £40.28m to spend, which I’ll raise with significant sales. Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose and Yannick Bolasie, now at Sunderland, are my two prime targets. I also want a top-class central midfielder and a goalkeeper, so expect to see plenty of summer business.
Willian Jose and Bolasie are quickly secured and I also land wing-back Riza Durmisi and midfielder Vincent Koziello from OGC Nice and reunite with Ronaldo Vieira, who I capture for Leeds. My focus is now offloading deadwood and an unhappy Dimitri Payet, before landing a new goalkeeper. Wojciech Szczesny is available on a free transfer and I’d very much like to make him a member of the team, though I may see who shines at the World Cup.
Sides in Europe seem content on raiding us and we lose Karim Rekik, Mike Jensen and Rafael Toloi. That leaves us needing even more improvements in defence, so I land Florentin Pogba on a free transfer, sign Asmir Begovic for £7m and move for Martin Caceres for a minimal fee. I also have a move for a new centre-back in the works, if I manage to offload Dimitri ‘the snake’ Payet – who Liverpool and Spurs have made an £8.5m bid for.
The snake has now decided he wants to stay, which has really scuppered my plans, and I found him expendable. Having said that, he is still one of the best players within my team and snapping up Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan really helps my back-line (honestly), whilst the addition of Kyle Naughton provides competition at right-back.
Many new signings make their debut on the opening day of the season against Nantes, including a Willian Jose who scores on his debut, where we win 2-1 and we draw 2-2 in a derby against OGC Nice the following week. Our difficult start continues as we host Lyon and we’re extremely unfortunate to lose 3-2.
The ‘joker’ transfer window in France means there’s still a chance Payet could leave, after kicking up a fuss on Deadline Day when I rejected a loan offer from Besiktas, and I’ll only venture into the market myself should we lose the veteran winger.
In September we beat Lille 1-0, hammer Metz and Stade Rennais 4-1, before finishing the month with a 2-0 victory over Lorient. It leaves us second, five points behind a PSG side who have won all seven matches so far, and one point ahead of Montpellier.