Auxerre 23/24 v Doncaster Rovers 29/30 (Franjo: Slumberland – Match 5)

The half way point.

Good morning, ladies and gents!

Welcome once again to Franjo’s dreams and welcome of course to Slumberland, the show that brought you such unfathomable dreams as “Ricky Tomlinson’s Mario Cart-esque broomstick race around an airport.” Seriously.

I’m your host, John Hutchison.

Today we’re concluding the first half of the Slumberland First Division, a football league featuring 6 of Franjo’s favourite teams scraped from his overactive imagination. I’ll be basking in all of the footballing glory with you in our featured match, which sees your friendly neighbourhood WT Franjo’s Auxerre 21/22 host chronically unemployed 24 year old Dave O’Leary’s Doncaster Rovers 29/30. The 2 teams currently sit 2nd and 3rd in the table on equal points, but Donny have a substantially worse goal difference. A win for either side today would open up some welcome breathing room in 2nd place.

As we’re about to reach the half-way point, let’s check in with the man who’s irredeemably glass-half-empty. How’s it going, Don?

That’s where you’re wrong, ye daft wee c**t, I’m a happy man today.

Don, please, I’m going to have to sensor that. We’re on live television.

I thought it was text commentary? But in the dreams of a cyborg?

I don’t fucking know any more, actually. It’s a weird mash up. And wait your turn, Royston, we’ll come to you in a moment. What’s turned your frown upside down then, Don?

I’m watching the boys, aren’t I. Cut me, I bleed Bordeaux Blue, pal. They’re gunnae hammer County and I cannae wait. Luciano’s back in with the armband for GDB and Voli Bi’s oot. Richard Reeves, Richard Mohammed and Louie Barry all in for the shite stains and Murillo, Saka and Johnson are gone.

Quite drastic changes in County’s lineup there as they seek to turn their fortunes around. Mirrored quite neatly by your own drastic change in mood, too. Creepy. Anyway, let’s go to our half-baked, half-cocked halfwit. Who are you watching, Royston?

Hiya, John. Blackpool 21/22 v Hearts 21/22 for me. Excited for the Scots to kick seven bells again.

Very good indeed. Any team news?

Aye, looks like Higham and Freeman are in for Husband and Hodson for Blackpool. Gallagher in for Sheaf for Hearts.

I’m so proud of you I could actually weep, Royston. I take back the namecalling from a second ago.

Aye, ye can go and assume I’m never listening, John.

Comforting. Well great job, anyway. As for our featured match, Auxerre are making no changes whatsoever following their triumph over Notts County, but Doncaster are making a couple as a result of their capitulation at Hearts. 1st choice goalkeeper Borup Fleming is back in net replacing Raif Husic and Mark Collins is back in again for Esteban Devos. O’Leary clearly doesn’t have much faith in his right backs, I don’t think either of them’s stayed in the team for more than 1 match in a row yet. Auxerre’s Billy is apparently still going to be out for a while and is really in a race against time to feature again at all this season by the sounds of it.

Both sides are ready, the home side in their classic white and blue kit and shooting from left to right, the away side in their black and blue 2nd kit. The officials are donning green shirts and black shorts and socks for those of you interested… Might just be me. Just 1 more thing actually, if you’re going to watch the highlights later on, don’t be alarmed if some of the players don’t have feet. It’s actually surprisingly common here in Franjo’s dreams and is nothing to worry about.

Aye, it’s like he opened the game from Steam instead of Slider, so the boot pack hasn’t loaded correctly, John.

Try not to break the 4th wall, Royston, there’s a good lad. Let’s just all be really impressed that we’re nearly halfway through this tournament and this is the first time it’s happened. Hicham Aidir to get us underway in just a second.

And we’re off!

An early free kick for Auxerre in a dangerous position out on the right wing. Celsiney did really well there, taking on both Smith and Salinas and getting a cross in before Donny’s skipper trips him up.

GOAL! Auxerre 23/24 1 – 0 Doncaster Rovers 29/30
Mamadou Doucouré (3)

What a start for l’AJA! McCarthy whips in a near post cross and Salinas can’t stay close enough to Auxerre’s left back, who leaps up and powers a header low into the goal.

CHANCE! Almost an immediate response from Rovers! Collins’ deflected cross floats into the box from the right wing, Captiste heads it clear but only as far as Sam Smith, who drills it inches wide of goal on the half volley. Lively start here.

GOAL! Blackpool 21/22 0 – 1 Hearts 21/22
Sean Clare (9)

That was as slick as ye like, John. One touch passes from Smith, Clare, Smith and Munro set up Clare for a tap in. The boys from aer the border are ahead.

Rovers have responded well to going behind and are in full control at the minute. Might have been a bit hasty calling it lively though, not a great deal of note is happening.

GOAL! Bordeaux 29/30 1 – 0 Notts County 26/27
Konstantin Gerchev (14)

Name me a more iconic fuckin duo in this league that Lyndon and Gerchev, John. The big la gets the ball from Alles on the right, holds it up and squares it away tae Brazgarian, who thumps it past the pile of wet shite in County’s goal. Bordeaux on the way tae 5 wins from 5.

CHANCE! Not a fantastic one. Presumably out of frustration that Auxerre have been starved of possession, Amine Reynier tries a potshot from about 30 yards. It’s never ever troubling Borup, who catches it easily.

That was a bit better from the home side. Celsiney does well to get some space on the right flank, curls a cross in towards the 6 yard box but Aidir’s strayed offside.

Another Celsiney cross has to be tipped over the bar by Borup in the closest thing to a chance that we’ve had for some time… Anyone know any good jokes?

CHANCE! Oooof it should be 1-1. McCarthy turns over possession sloppily and Albian Ajeti sends Daniel Kubik racing behind Auxerre’s defensive line. He’s free of Isaac Sohna and gets one on one with Xavier Lenogue, but his drilled effort is turned behind well by the Martinique international. Good chance, but Kubik might think that he should’ve buried it.

GOAL! Blackpool 21/22 0 – 2 Hearts 21/22

Both Hearts goals have been so pretty ye could take em home to meet yer ma, John. Barker plays a one-two with Diegui, who chips it back across the box and Barker pure dinks a header over Ruddy intae the far corner.

CHANCE! Another good chance down at the other end! Doucouré cuts in from the left and passes to McCarthy on the edge of the box. The South African’s side footed pass comes to Aidir, who turns but can’t get the ball out of his feet and scuffs a shot straight at Borup.

Isaac Sohna taking no chances there. A long ball comes into the box courtesy of Salinas and Kubik and Lenogue both rush to get to it, but the big Cameroonian defender gets there first and heads it behind. Good awareness from the centre back.

CHANCE! Reid takes the corner, swinging it in to Ben Youssef, who can only glance his header towards the right wing. Doncaster recover the ball and work it back into the box for Albian Ajeti, who shoots on the turn but Lenogue makes a reflex save to deny him an equaliser.

CHANCE! Auxerre counter attack with Celsiney, probably the player of the match so far, tears down the right wing. He lays a pass inside and Reynier gets a shot away just as Ben Youssef flattens him. There’s some power on the effort though and Borup does well to turn it behind.

CHANCE! McCarthy’s corner comes back to him and he chips the ball in again. Romagna beats Aidir in the air but can only head it as far as Reynier, who volleys it low into Borup’s arms. This game’s really come alive again.

CHANCE! I have absolutely no idea how the score’s still 1-0. Doncaster should score again as Pat Reid curls a delicious ball through to Kubik. With Sohna bearing down on him, the young Polish striker tries to hit it early but sends his shot inches wide.

HALF TIME. Auxerre 23/24 1 – 0 Doncaster Rovers 29/30

Well apart from the rather severe lull in the middle, this has been a really action packed 1st half. Hopefully there’s more to come after the break.

HALF TIME. Blackpool 21/22 0 – 2 Hearts 21/22

Hearts well on top over here, John. Great performance, 2 great goals. Blackpool have barely had a sniff and they may as well go haem.

HALF TIME. Bordeaux 29/30 1 – 0 Notts County 26/27

This hasn’t been the stomping I’ve been lookin forward tae all week, John, but I’m confident we’ll see more goals in the 2nd half. County have done next to nothing.

Well, quite a quiet first half across the board then. 45 minutes played, 4 goals scored, 3 teams yet to score. In terms of our table, as it stands, Hearts are leapfrogging Doncaster into 3rd place. Not bad for a team that were predicted to finish rock bottom of the league. Everyone else is staying put at the minute. Let’s get the ad out of the way, shall we?

Play Player Power, the chaotic football arcade game by Dave O’Leary/O’Leary Games now available for £0.79 on Steam!

Really great, original message. I’m off for a steak and kidney and a mocha, back in a few.

Right, back in the saddle again, folks. Doncaster have made a change for the 2nd half, with leading goalscorer Daniel Kubik replaced by Roar Nyhus up front. Let’s see if the Norwegian can turn the tide for the visitors. Albian Ajeti’s ready to kick us off.

Aaaaaaand we’re off!

CHANCE! Doncaster clinging onto the ball in the early stages and they work it up to the edge of Auxerre’s box, where Ajeti takes control. He keeps Captiste at arms length as he turns onto his left foot, then lashes a shot towards Lenogue, who parries it behind for a Doncaster corner.

GOAL! Auxerre 23/24 1 – 1 Doncaster Rovers 29/30
Albian Ajeti (48)

Rovers are back on level terms! The corner’s headed on, punched away, passed back into the box, then Ben Youssef passes to Ajeti, who spins away from Doucouré and whips the ball into the bottom corner. It’s pretty weird to watch the goalscorer sprint away to celebrate with no feet, but again this is no cause for alarm. Game on!

CHANCE! Ajeti’s really got the bit between his teeth now. Sam Smith finds him in the box, he turns past Captiste but shoots straight at Lenogue. Seconds later, Chris Beardsmore finds Nyhus inside the area and the substitute drills one wide. Auxerre desperately need to tighten things up defensively.

GOAL! Blackpool 21/22 0 – 3 Hearts 21/22
Sean Clare (56)

Clare and Munro are giving Gerchev and Lyndon a run for their money today, John. Another pass from Munro, Clare shifts it onto his left foot and blasts it past Ruddy from the edge of the box. Hearts have got it in the bag now.

CHANCE! Another close call for the hosts. Pet Reid plays yet another ball to Ajeti on the edge of the box and he tries to work a bit of space, but his shot deflects wide off the outstretched leg of Captiste.

GOAL! Auxerre 23/24 1 – 2 Doncaster Rovers 29/30
Sam Smith (57)

And the 2nd half turnaround is complete before the hour mark! Pat Reid whips the corner in and left winger Smith dashes to the 6 yard box to meet it, completely losing his marker McCarthy. It’s a good header, directed low into the far corner and out of Lenogue’s reach. Donny lead.

The 4th goal is crucial now. With Auxerre looking completely bewildered, a 3rd for Rovers would surely finish them off. If they can rally to find an equaliser though, we could be on for a hell of an ending.

CHANCE! It’s all getting a bit scrappy since the 3rd goal, but that was a decent chance for Auxerre and their first since the break. Aidir passed into space in the left channel to release Reynier, who thumps a low drive towards goal from 20 yards. It’s too close to Borup though and the goalie parries it to safety.

GOAL! Auxerre 23/24 1 – 3 Doncaster Rovers 29/30
Albian Ajeti (68)

And just as the green shoots were emerging for Franjo’s boys, the earth below them is salted. Not sure if that metaphor holds up, but moving on: Great pass down the right wing from Beardsmore, under pressure from Sissako. Ajeti latches on, escapes Captiste for the 5,000th time this match, sprints across the 6 yard box and clips the ball in at the far post to double his tally. That could well be the killing blow. Whatever O’Leary said at half time certainly had an impact, especially for the Albanian striker.

PENALTY! It just keeps getting worse and worse for Auxerre. Chances of a comeback were already bleak but it’s Ajeti again who turns inside away from Doucouré, only to be met by Abdoulaye “The Battering Ram” Sissako, who knocks him on his arse. Penalty for Rovers and a chance for 1-4.

Just before the penalty’s taken, Donny are bringing on Jeff Lawson for Sam Smith on the left wing. It’s not to take the penalty though, that’s a job for big Pat Reid. The midfielder looks dead set on taking this, despite Ajeti being on a hat trick. Can he put the game beyond doubt?

GOAL! Auxerre 23/24 1 – 4 Doncaster Rovers 29/30
Pat Reid (76 pen)

He can. The Irishman steps up confidently and as Lenogue dives to his right, the ball’s thumped straight down the middle. Stick a fork in this one.

Time for a 5th for Rovers? A pretty dangerous cross comes in from Roar Nyhus and Isaac Sohna denies Ajeti a hat trick by heading behind and conceding a corner.

Reid swings it in, Ben Youssef beats the woeful Captiste in the air but sends his header just wide. The Auxerre skipper’s had a torrid time of it today.

Franjo keeps making this change nearly every match and it hasn’t paid off yet, but Nathan Andre’s replacing Amine Reynier on the left wing. At 1-4 and with 10 minutes to go, it’d be pretty optimistic to suggest it’s going to pay off today.

That’s a really ugly challenge by Jeff Lawson on Lamine Fomba, in roughly the same position that Auxerre scored from almost 2 hours ago. The referee plays advantage though and the home side play on, but it comes to nothing. I probably would’ve taken the free kick.

Issa Samba’s on replacing Celsiney for Auxerre. Not a game-changing substitute in my opinion. Where’s Soumahoro? Where’s Ferhat?? At least have a go!

GOAL! Bordeaux 29/30 1 – 1 Notts County 26/27
Dale Johnson (89)

I hate Notts County with all of my fucking heart, John. Ball over the top, baldie puts it in. Wankers.

Equally pointless substitute by Rovers! Arnold replaces Salinas at left back. Time wasting’s in their interest though, I suppose.

FULL TIME. Blackpool 21/22 0 – 3 Hearts 21/22

Wonderful performance by the laddies today, John. Clare and Munro caused absolute havoc and Blackpool had nae answer tae it.

Great result for Hearts. Not much was expected to separate those 2 sides at the start of the season but they’ve really thrown the gauntlet down now to the likes of Auxerre and Bordeaux. They’re aiming for top half!

FULL TIME. Auxerre 23/24 1 – 4 Doncaster Rovers 29/30

Speaking of which, Auxerre need to take a good hard look at themselves after that second half. How on Earth can a good, positive performance and a half time lead turn so dramatically? Take nothing away from Doncaster though, they were absolutely rampant.

FULL TIME. Bordeaux 29/30 1 – 1 Notts County 26/27

You can take care of this shite, John. I’m tae bed.

Oh. Cheers for the effort, anyway, Don. One thing I will say is that we’ve finally had our first draw of the competition and Bordeaux would’ve been the last team that I would have put money on to be frustrated at home. County have got to pleased with that, though. Judging from the stats, they matched their hosts stride for stride and got their reward.

So here we are at the halfway point. Bordeaux are still sitting quite pretty at the top with 13 points, despite dropping points for the first time. Doncaster and Hearts are following on 9 points, while the bottom half suddenly looks quite adrift. Auxerre will be disappointed to have slid down to match their expected finish of 4th place with half of the games played, but Notts County will be downright embarrassed. Blackpool it seems are just not going to come out of this campaign with many fond memories.

And that’s us done for another night. We’re going to take a midseason break, but we’ll be back in a week or so. Until then, good night and sleep tight.


Meet Doncaster Rovers 29/30 (Franjo: Slumberland – Intro 4/6)

Even though it wasn’t by any means a successful save, this sticks in my mind as one of the most enjoyable saves I’ve ever played.


Game: FM16

Time In Charge: 14 and a half years

Highest League Finish: 7th In Premier League

Honours: League 1 Runners-Up (16/17), Championship Runners-Up (18/19), Championship Champions (20/21)

Predicted Finish: 1st

FM16 Save: Here

PES20 Team: Here

I was absolutely over the moon when I had the idea for this league and found a copy of my Donny save file in a 2016 email to myself, which is how I used to back up files. Even though it wasn’t by any means a successful save, this sticks in my mind as one of the most enjoyable saves I’ve ever played. I grew up not far away and at the time of playing this game I’d just moved back up North from London and was living in Doncaster. I went to the occasional match too, so even though I know all too well that Doncaster is a shit hole, I have a real soft spot for Rovers.


Back Story

TLDR: From League 1 to the Premier League in 4 years, then relegation and a player exodus followed by a rebuild and instant promotion. 7th place finish, then mid-table mediocrity ever since.

Forgive me if I’ve forgotten absolutely all of the details because this is a 15 year save I played 4 years ago, but the first 4 years after I took over Donny in 2015/16 were fairly run of the mill for a football manager save: Midtable in League 1, 2nd in League 1, midtable in Championship, 2nd in Championship. Our 5th year was our first in the Premier League and this is where this save got going for me, because we got a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y b.a.t.t.e.r.e.d. Seriously, I think it’s the worst that any team of mine has ever done in any league. Essentially we got up to the Prem unexpectedly quickly and did not have a squad or a financial structure capable of competing. From the start of the season til January, we won 1 game, drew 5 and lost 13. In desperation I threw all of my wage bill at 6 month contracts for big name free agents Andy Carroll, Kyle Walker, Matthew Targett, Wayne Rooney and Gary Cahill, but our improvement wasn’t enough. We went down on 27 points, rock bottom of the Premier League.

Luckily I kept my job thanks to the good will I’d accrued from my recent promotions, so I survived the chop, only to have a mass player exodus on my hands. 20 players packed their bags and left us to an inevitable decline back down the league pyramid. BUT with the Premier League riches and fees from selling all of those players still dribbling into our bank account, we rebuilt. An army of new, better players were brought in, including personal favourites Angelino, who went on to be our starting left back for 9 years, Demarai Gray, who had 8 years with us, Patrick Roberts, who’s still with us 10 years later, and Diafra Sakho, whose 28 goals in 40 games the following season blasted us back to the top division.

We’ve stayed there ever since but we never did become a wealthy club or even a club capable of competing for Europe. We finished 7th in our first year back in the Premier League, but then normalised into mid-table mediocrity. With state of the art youth facilities now pumping out really good talent though, I don’t think that would have stayed the case for much longer had I kept playing. Despite their flaws, I love this group of players.

Starting Lineup

No 1 – Flemming Borup – Goalkeeper

Flemming’s not a modern sort of keeper, but as good old fashioned shot-stoppers go, he’s an exceptional talent and wouldn’t look out of place at a top club. My Doncaster team (you’ll be shocked to hear this I’m sure, after my first 3 club intros) play open, attacking football though, which doesn’t exactly help Borup’s stats. He’s conceded a whopping 173 goals in 101 appearances since his £12M move from Hoffenheim in 2027. I and my tactics will take the blame for that though, he’s a really good keeper.


No 2 – Esteban Devos – Right Back

As I said, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details from this save, but Esteban’s got a bit of a weird history. We loaned him from Bordeaux for that season back in the Championship in 20/21 and he was fantastic, notching 12 assists and averaging over a 7.5 rating. We couldn’t bring him back immediately once we got promoted, but he stayed on my mind and I brought him in for £13M in 2022. He had 5 really good years with us, but then was snapped up by Chelsea for £1M, I assume as he was running his contract down and I was resigned to losing him. Luckily, he warmed their bench for a year and came back, tail between legs, for £1.5M in 2027. He’s a solid and experienced full back, a fan favourite and I’ve obviously forgotten any differences we might have once had.


No 5 – Mourad Ben Youssef – Centre Back

Mourad’s the very definition of what FM once called a “Limited Defender”. He can tackle, mark and head the ball, position himself well and can get around the pitch thanks to his great athleticism. Nothing fancy required. I signed him from Tunisian side ES Sahel for £450k in 2024 and he’s been a staple of my back line ever since.


No 4 – Amadou Diallo – Centre Back

Diallo’s a new signing for Donny and it goes to show what a state our finances still are that he was my “big money” signing of 2030, signed for £18M from Southampton, which seems to have financially crippled us even further. He seems worth the investment though, with solid attributes across the board and infinite potential for growth. He’s also a bit more silky on the ball than Ben Youssef, which is bound to help.


No 3 – Santiago Salinas – Left Back

If you think Diallo’s transfer fee was impressive though, wait til you hear about Santiago’s gargantuan £24M move from Benfica in 2027. Salinas is one of the many players that really stuck with me from this save, no doubt thanks to his outstanding mental attributes. He’s a really polished all-rounder and he’s Doncaster Rovers’ captain.


No 7 – Mitch North – Right Mid

Mitch is 1 of 2 academy graduates in our starting lineup. At 20 years old he’s already been in my first team for 3 years and is really starting to shape up as a Premier League footballer. He’s quick, full of tricks and can take a man on or swing in a cross, as evidenced by his 22 assists in 77 appearances for the club so far.


No 8 – Pat Reid – Deep Playmaker

Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses, but I remember Pat being genuinely one of the best 16 year olds I’ve ever seen on an FM save. To be honest though, I think I must’ve stunted his development a bit with some unhelpful loan moves. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still an excellent player and well worth the £500K I paid to prise him away from Derry City in 2021, but maybe he could’ve been better. As it stands, he’s still one of our best.


No 12 – Rodney Kongolo – Ball Winning Mid

Rodney, a DR Congo international, is a new signing at the Keepmoat. I really liked to have an experienced defensive marshal in my midfield in this save and Daniel Amartey was released in the Summer aged 35, so in came Kongolo. He looks good so far and is putting in some great performances for us. He complements Pat well too. Together they give us a good mixture of silk and steel.


No 17 – Patrick Roberts – Left Mid

It’s probably fair to say that at 32, Patrick’s best years are behind him, but what a servant he’s been for the club. Since signing on a free from Manchester City in 2020, he’s scored 52 goals and set up 71 more in 324 appearances. He is, as far as I’m aware, the only player in any of these 6 teams to achieve legend status at their club.


No 9 – Roar Nyhus – Striker

After 4 years of personal experience and growth, I still don’t know how to pronounce Roar’s surname. Nigh-Us? Nigh-Oos? Nee-Oos? Who cares though to be honest, because his name is ROAR. Signed from Norwegian side Jerv for a staggering £4k in 2024, Roar’s gone on to score 47 goals in 120 appearances. He’s quick, he knows where the goal is and he’s the 2nd biggest reason I was excited to find this save again.


No 10 – Dylan Brennan – Striker

And here’s the 1st biggest reason. I’ve been playing Football Manager/Championship Manager since I got the CM00/01 demo CD in a box of frosties and there has only been 1 player over these 20 years who’s moved me to buy a real life club shirt with their name and number on it. Here he is. Dylan came up through our academy as a young Irishman and has scored 46 goals in 126 appearances, leading to a change of heart and a first cap and goal for England a few months ago. It was against Northern Ireland though, so I’m assuming that that must have felt pretty good. He’s progressing like a monster and I’m tempted to revive this old save just to see how good I can get him to be. I’m incredibly happy that I finally get to show him off.



I think what sets this Doncaster side out from the rest and one of the reasons they’re predicted 1st in the League is because they have quite a bit of strength in depth. A lot of the players on their bench are young academy graduates, but the likes of seasoned centre back Filippo Romagna, seasoned playmaker Mikael Mansson (A club icon who deserves a special shout out for his 10 years of excellent service: 339 appearances since an £88k move from Hammarby), exciting playmaker Borja Lizárraga and experienced striker Albian Ajeti give them some fantastic options off the bench.



Would you like to take a guess as to our tactical style? That’s right! We play open, attacking football. We do play a 4-4-2 though, which is something a bit different. It’s probably one of the main reasons I haven’t won anything in this save to be fair as looking back on it, this group of players aren’t really good enough to have a 2 man central midfield and also to leave themselves wide open by playing expansive football, especially not in the Premier League. What an idiot I was back in 2016, eh? Thank God I’m now probably maybe marginally better at this fucking game.