OGC Nice: The LQS Obituary

The proverb says “All good things must come to an end”, hinting that happiness is fleeting and often said when the good times stop. But, luckily for FM Adventure and I, bad times also end. The Latte Quarterly Save (LQS) was an FM in real-time approach to blogging: we played a month of FM time in a real-life month. The intention was to keep the good times rolling, a single season save with OGC Nice to span the cycle of an FM edition. But the good times ended around September/October…thereafter the bad times arrived: defeats, injuries and failed transfer deals. We targeted Europe qualification in Ligue 1, yet by February we were fighting for mid-table with a cautious eye behind us.

It shouldn’t have gotten this bad. The LQS format meant we could draft ‘specialists’ into the save to refine our training, set piece and tactical approaches. The crème de la crème of FM Blogging guiding us to virtual glory? Well, not really. It goes to show that you can be as methodological and in-depth as you want in Football Manager…it can still go wrong.

That’s what is hard about this post. Writing about when things have gone irreversibly wrong like this is challenging. Usually FM blogging only likes to show you the good times, or when the bad times are corrected and come good. This is neither of those things…it’s an obituary. We didn’t get sacked, we resigned. Sparing our blushes for what was about to happen. I’m therefore structuring today’s post as to my thoughts about what went wrong, before I invite FM Adventure and FM Rensie to pen their final reflections about our 6 month stay on the French Riviera.

FM Grasshopper

I am writing this a few weeks after making the decision with Matt to stop the save. Somehow (and it still baffles me now) we never got sacked! Our final two results, yet to be documented in our monthly blog, were both defeats: PSG 4-0 OGC Nice and OGC Nice 1-3 Montpellier. A run of five defeats in a row led us to chuck the towel in. 14th in League 1 and early exit from all cup competitions. C’est fini.

Readers may be asking “What If you carried on and turned it around?”…believe me, we wouldn’t have. There was something about this save which infuriated us, after our brief honeymoon period. But we’ll start with tactics, because we had a rather haphazard/muddled approach over the course of our 6 months in Nice. Perhaps both Matt and I went at it in the wrong direction, we built two systems in the early days…but never had that discussion as to our true philosophy. Perhaps we should have fixed on that in pre-season and never steered away from it. Are we a team that controls possession, in a patient style? Do we counter, play fast and direct?

However, we were still methodological (we’re latte afterall); we analysed the squad and we each consulted the team report. But, ultimately we came at it with slightly different views and never agreed on a stance. We would switch tactics and formations fairly fluidly. Maybe an inconsistent run with the same tactic for 10 games, before it becomes stable, is better than clutching for wins and draws over 30 games with tactical switcheroos? Lesson Learned: undertake a ‘deep dive’ into how we want to play, don’t work in a silo…talk to Matt, Matt talks to me. We find a process, trust it and recruit to it.

A nice segue into my second lesson learned, where I constantly cite our transfer activity as being a major part of our struggle. “Why didn’t you sign the right players then?”, I hear you ask. Well, we were hours away from Islam Slimani joining us on loan before the French transfer window closed in September. A deal that would have eased our dependency on Kasper Dolberg for goals. We missed out on him by a couple of hours, and then had the heartbreak of seeing him agree to a move to Zenit.

Maybe it was an Algerian curse on the save…as we saw Youcef Atal reject big money moves to China which would have paved the way for a huge January rebuild. I winced at the £25m we never got to play with. Still, the four players we did bring in were solid and cost-effective. Maybe they will get a taste of what a victory feels like under the new management? Lessons Learned: check when the transfer deadline ends, and do your utmost in making sure the deal is sewn up early. Don’t assume players have yours, or the club’s, best interests. They’re bastards.

Injuries. I am going out on a limb here (no pun intended) by saying that the injury to Kasper Dolberg’s left knee is the single/most game changing moment of the save. His goals to game ratio was better than 1 in two for us before the injury. He scored all kinds of goals too, and seemed to make others around him better. His injury left a huge void and I never liked the options we had as a central lone Striker post-injury. We were crying out for a Islam Slimani-type player, but he was all the way in St. Petersburg. Lessons Learned: I suppose this one is linked to the previous two above. We could, maybe should, have rested young Kasper more. But did we have a choice?

That’s me out. I enjoyed catching up with Matt, and a few others in the save, over the course of 6 real-life months that featured dark nights, lockdowns and many defeats. It made Friday nights sociable again, and I have zero regrets…because I know we will be back.

Back, stronger. Back, together.

FM Rensie

I know I mentioned it several times in the past, but the fact we all are playing the Football Manager differently is perfect to follow.

I was invited to this LQ save with OGC Nice mainly to help Matt, Tony and co. with set pieces. We didn’t score a high amount of goals from corners or free kicks. But the squad was more dangerous within set pieces in my eyes for sure.

Exactly as Tony mentioned in his part, I enjoyed being part of this save and being able to chat with him, Matt and others involved in the save.

There were some painful performances and results to watch while drinking (another) beer to not see all the weird things.

I’m not too much about sharing/succession saves but this one got me and I thought about what we would be able to improve even when I didn’t have time to play my FM21 save.
My main point from the following matches was that the team was too passive and we were just waiting where we will concede.

I decided to load the save on my own and tried to make some changes within the tactic to make the team more aggressive and more active to ensure we will be the dominant team.
I shared my thoughts with others and we tried some of them. But it’s collective save and not all things I tried were added. That’s nothing wrong.

If I remember it right, FEO had the save for the domestic cup match against US Marseille Endourne at the beginning of January 2021 (in-game date) and he secured a 6:0 win. I had the saved file after this cup game and decided to apply my changes for the next match against Rennais.

I didn’t have enough time to concentrate on my save due to a hectic working schedule so I just played slowly this LQ save when I had time and energy to load the game.
The results within January 2021 and a half of February 2021 went great. Nine matches, eight wins and a draw against PSG.

I’m sharing this just because I enjoyed the time I spent together with Matt, Tony and others. And to show that small changes can turn everything completely around.

Danilo and Maolida were the main men during “my separate” time within the save. Danilo was the main Mezzala with the attack duty and Maolida was the Advanced Forward within the 4-3-3 formation while Dolberg was still injured.

The save didn’t go as well as we wanted probably but I would like to say a big thank you to all as I enjoyed being part of this “team”.

fmadventure

Oh, how quickly things can change in Football Manager. Picking OGC Nice wasn’t just a name out of a hat scenario. We spent some time finding a club at the right level and with a good group of players we felt could be exciting to manage. It felt like Nice had the perfect blend of youth and experience.

It started so well with an impressive pre-season and two wins to start off the league season. It wasn’t too long before the performances started to dip and the results with them. Thinking back, maybe we were a bit too quick to make tactical changes when things weren’t going right. Sometimes in FM, it helps to try and ride out the storm a bit. However, when you’re playing that bit more slowly like we were from week to week, it just feels like you have a lot more time to consider the minutiae. It almost feels like you maybe need to tinker that bit more.

How would I sum up this season in the LQ Save? Frustrating, very frustrating. Despite that, I really enjoyed how we ‘co-managed’ during the season. It’s something we’ll definitely come back to but not with OGC Nice. Never again.

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