Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
deltablue

[FM13] Second Star to the Right...

Recommended Posts

Summer 2060

Signings

It was a funny old window. There was a lot we could do but not much we needed to do. Even at right-back the previous second choice looked like a much better option than I realised (or maybe the old guy had just declined that much). Getting rid of players proved tricky (which I had forgotten about from January), and I remain stuck with a defensive midfielder on 70kpw! Thankfully a couple of contracts (including his) have just one year left. However I managed to unblock enough to have a decent amount to spend, even if I knew I wouldn't be able to get established players from bigger leagues.

While I was still trying to push players out of the door, the DoF actually made the first move. Better defensive depth was one of the 'maybes' and he grabbed a Moroccan defender who can actually slot in as first choice, the only signing of the summer likely to feature as a regular immediately. The rest fell into an interesting category, joining Michiels to form a group of young players already very similar in ability to their established counterparts, though not enough to replace them in the short term. They do at  least provide much better backup (or even rotation) options than we had before as well as hopefully providing a clear improvement in the longer term.

It took a while to sort out how much I'd be able to spend (and who I could spend it on) but Nene (already scouted and highly rated) was a no-brainer when I saw on the shortlist that he was a free agent, especially with the wing (just the one, for those who don't know) being a position where we needed to upgrade sooner or later, however well Cabraja was doing at the moment. A new forward took a lot more thinking about, but again Serna was someone who had to be replaced eventually and getting in someone who could do just that for a little over 4M seemed like a decent investment to make.

The right-back issue was still nagging away but ideal players (even 'central defenders who can play on the right' types) were hard to find, and the few I could find would have been very expensive, at least 15M, probably more like 18M, and just didn't seem quite worth it. It ended up being back to Heerenveen and Verlhac (and if Nash had been a little better, he might have joined him with a 6.5M release clause as our new keeper). He's not ideal, but for a wing-back role pace (as opposed to acceleration) isn't actually a key attribute leaving crossing as his only short-coming. He's still a fantastic young defender (with a Model Pro personality) and still potentially very useful even if I find a proper full-back soon after all.

I ended up with enough left for one good signing and decided to see who I could find spend it. I'd like a new first choice keeper eventually but it'll be hard to find someone clearly better than the current first choice Kasic. Nash was too much on a similar level, and a young Welsh keeper at Cardiff ended up not being afforable. I was going for a young German midfielder who was decent enough, before spotting Andre. He plays on the 'wrong' side with Dezotti firmly established as first choice on the left but like with all the other young players he provides a good alternative, and while it takes up CA I'm starting to retrain him on the right, at least giving us one suitable option there. It seems like a decent 20M investment on the whole even if we're not really much stronger right away.

Benali.thumb.jpg.b33b06a73005ff6130a2cbf51ee0b0c8.jpg

Nene.thumb.jpg.dfab33947e4e166d920e42e00366189a.jpg

Fabricio.thumb.jpg.178b3d34bc89e6b8ee530042dd4d3ba2.jpg

Verlhac.thumb.jpg.7a650790729b749a5bf42d15ac87cc66.jpg

Andre.thumb.jpg.5cf1ae039588408af45a943ce51bcbee.jpg

trans60.thumb.jpg.e3001a5da5141b37f829374a7c3a2a6e.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry it's been another gap I've been spending a few weeks sorting out an application to do a postgraduate degree at Dundee (distance learning thankfully) starting in May, though I think that's all done for now. I'm also without internet at home for 2 weeks (don't ask) which might actually allow me to turn my attentions to FM a little more, though not necessarily be able to post. I had started the season already anyway and without any further Freddy Adu...

Sept 2060

fixsep60.thumb.jpg.4d733bd33909182195bf361cbb9d18f2.jpg

sep60.thumb.jpg.7161cf46b4b9e99cbc22886fa051f2bc.jpg

elsep60.thumb.jpg.bab8ae3ccbb4aade3934b3da63326185.jpg

The season started promisingly enough though we couldn't keep it up. It seems to be a common thing to get a non-league team in the first round of the cup in Germany so I played the new younger players, including Michiels (who turned 17 that very day) and a young defender who had also recently come of age. The easy win was expected but the opening day win over Leverkusen seemed like a sign of good things to come this season. Unfortunately that didn' last very long as we lost to Nurnberg from a penalty (which was actually saved the first time around) then were FM'ed a bit at Mainz. There seems to have be a bit of home/away contrast as well, with even the home draw with Hamburg (though we weren't far off hanging on to win) not being the worst result as they're the reigning champions. However Bayern (with a 100% record) away us next. Ouch!

Performances have actually been very good for the most part, and that includes our keeper Kesic (who I've probably been underrating a bit) being on course for another season averaging above 7.00, no easy feat for a keeper. The other highlights include Fabricio already getting some goals (just as well as Mbah hasn't so far this season), as well as Michiels, who is quite a fiesty young tyke, not afraid to really get right in on an opposing player with the ball and managing to judge it right to get the ball and avoid conceding fouls a well.

Our mixed fortunes applied to Europe. We seemed to have a simple enough group with Sparta Prague, Torpedo Zhodino and Niki Volou. No walkovers among there but we're still comfortably the strongest team and we really should qualify. We started easily enough with a big win over Zhodino before going doing down to a penalty in Greece. It would be really awkward if we ended up with a big fight to get through after such a favourable draw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I managed to get a bit more done with our fortunes improving. Currently in mid November and should have a few more updates when I get the opportunity next week. 

 

However that's not why I'm posting. This week I got accepted to do a Masters in Archives and Records Management at Dundee. I'm mostly doing it from home but do have to go up in a month's time before I start. I think one of the Dundee clubs (partially Dundee United due to their far nicer kit) should be my next destination ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oct 2060

fixoct60.thumb.jpg.b7482aa7bc5274b4de216680fac017b2.jpg

oct60.thumb.jpg.bdb7fdb174d25503acf4cd081fe39e79.jpg

eloct60.thumb.jpg.5eb4fcb72d5463c08a4562c64e5e78e2.jpg

After our messy start to the season, things started to look up. I knew we'd lose at Bayern but we did better than expected, at least in terms of looking like we might fluke a 0-0 draw for a while. That  was our last defeat for a while as we started to really fire, at least at home. That included a big win over Sparta Prague to get our Europa League campaign back on track after our defeat in Greece the last time out. This was despite a few injuries starting to rack up from that Sparta win, starting with Fabricio going off after our opening two goals. The cup game against Gladbach was another messy one. Erlon Joe went off injured and the player responsible (as it wasn't even a foul) grabbed an equaliser right at the end of normal time. Thankfully justice was done as we grabbed our own late winner in extra time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nov/Dec 2060

fixdec60.thumb.jpg.190416f6ffa868b5f8c4090774fcc132.jpg

dec60.thumb.jpg.64692e88df9a20133e72cc8b1488e4e1.jpg

eldec60.thumb.jpg.80bcde9d7cec4b5024c5a4c97c46a503.jpg

Our good autumn form continued, at least until Augsburg, then our away-day demons struck again. Augburg were the season's surprise package, newly promoted but having been in the top three pretty much all season long up to that point. The fact that we went behind made me happier with a draw than I would have been otherwise, especially as it kept us on their tail and potentially opening up a comfortable margin for Europa league qualification. However we then lost at Darmstadt, another promoted team who were more predictably struggling, and Munich 1860 (also fighting relegation) in our following away game. In the cup we faced Braunschweig (who I've always thought were good team for a one-club save as surprise early Bundesliga winners, with a quest to do it again), the only team outside of the top 2 divisions left, and made relatively heavy weather of that as well. The win over Bremen (also challenging for the Europa League spots) was our one positive result.

In Europe things went better. We completed the double over Sparta Prague pretty much ensuring qualification, turning our attentions to beating Niki Volou for top spot. I thought that would require a win in the final match after our earlier defeat gave them a head-to-head advantage but they dropped points against Sparta as we managed to avoid kneeling before Zhod to give us the advantage. We won anyway meaning our defeat in Greece was but a mere blip. However that didn't do us any good at all as we drw pretty much the last team you'd expect at this stage (especially as group winners)...

eldec60b.thumb.jpg.008c6979efd234107e4d592556b56e77.jpg

Seriously! They're not actually that good a Barca team. They were top of the league but they hadn't won the title in 8 years, and finished 6th last season (with Real Madrid in 5th). Their squad is decent enough but without any of the quality you'd expect and this does look like their level, having a decent Europa League run on a regular basis but maybe not being among the favourites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jan/Feb 2061

fixbfeb61.thumb.jpg.f7db895e806104d6065ae19fce2e677a.jpg

feb61.thumb.jpg.9f2b325416bea63797d9cdba71b2150f.jpg

We suddenly found ourselves really fighting for Europa League qualification, not helped by defeat at Leverkusen in a match that was comfortable for them as our opening day win was for us. A couple of easy home games helped spark a bit of life and we at least got a draw when we went away again to Dusseldorf. However things gor tough for a while. We went ahead twice in Barcelona and while 3-2 wasn't too bad an away leg result, we messed it up completely at home. This was during what I'm calling our 'Carry On Defending' phase, not least because the usually excellent Kasic seemed to have become as much use as Sid James. However he was far from along at being at fault. We couldn't recover from two early goals for our only home defeat in any competition this season.

We somehow managed a good win over Stuttgart in between the legs but we got easily taken apart by Hamburg, the one team capable of challenging Bayern in recent years. They even had a 4th disallowed, I reckon out of pity. I didn't expect things to go any better in the cup against Bayern, which is why it was written off and it was a case of 'damage limitation;. That seemed to help us when we played them again at home in the weekend. We lost the lead twice (the second time when a Kasic pass was intercepted by a Bayern forward!) but still managed to get a late winner. It makes me wonder what things would be like with better away form given we've been near unstoppable at home. Aside from the Barcelona defeat. I think we've drawn something like 3 times in the league and that's it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live!

Sorry for the silence. The internet was terrible for a while when it finally returned and I had broken my laptop screen just before it did due to carelessness when taking it into town to try and use. Unfortunately I couldn't get it replaced as they don't do screens for the model anymore. I was still able to run it through my tv with an HDMI cable (and still am right now) but it wasn't quite the same and getting a replacement at last (especially as I'm now back to being able to do different things on multiple machines should make it a lot easier to play.

The other reason is my studies. I started my Master's degree last month and I've already had two assignments to submit. However I have a 4-week gap until the next deadline which will help in trying to play FM again. I still don't think I'm ready to pack it in completely (even just doing so for the thread and continuing the save privately whenever I can) but it's taking a lot of time and effort to adjust to balancing all the things I have to do, with my course or otherwise. I'm just about to start it up again for the first time in a while on the new laptop, while I finally get around to posting a few updates from when I was offline.

fix61.thumb.jpg.997c9ca03142cca6180c7b71a1473429.jpg

final61.thumb.jpg.ea6b3eb9e5817ff7596dcfb32da9041a.jpg

4th again! That makes it 6 times in a row and you have to go back to Mexico for the last time I ended up anywhere else. I'd probably take a 5th at this point just to break it up. We managed a good run of form in March (including a couple or rare away wins) before reverting to type. However for once we were reasonably comfortable when it came to the battle for 4th. I like the challenge of competing with bigger and much richer clubs like this but it's very much been a reminder of how hard that can be.

Star Player: An injury restricted Erlon Joe's game time last season, or at least the second half since I arrived and signed him, but we benefitted from being able to use him a lot more in our first full season in Germany. His goals and assists aren't that great but he just seems to be an excellent performer all-round.

Erlon61.thumb.jpg.020f109492878a132bef489de057b1b1.jpg

 

Squad Stats

stats61.thumb.jpg.9e0050caa6cb892e593e866b87bf4682.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer 2061

The fact that this was a while ago spares all of you a lot of writing about what happened. I do remember it as the summer where I finally managed to slash the wage bill, maing a couple of big sales in order to re-invest in younger players as usual. I still had to prioritise in certain positions with Calvet as a proper long-term back-up to Dezotti on the left, as well as Tahran giving us a second good young midfielder alongside Michels. The Colombian Maya is essentially first-team quality already while Mallet was a potental wonderkid I couldn't resist. Also up front was Roger (a former teammate of Erlon Joe in Brazil who I'd been eyieng up for a while) as someone ready to be Mbah's strike partner. A couple of future signings (including yet another young forward, from South Africa) and a potential Mexican playmaker (yay for being able to make a Mexican signing!) round off the business.

Signings

Mallet.thumb.jpg.3c66d4adacb349e368862e8a638ab61c.jpg

Maya.thumb.jpg.c5609cff25881adce1d9c63c5c8bb403.jpg

Roger.thumb.jpg.e94f833acdbe2ef91b84d95184fc92e3.jpg

Tahran.thumb.jpg.d70c7ea86ba1b7e3edc79d18c4631b4b.jpg

Calvet.thumb.jpg.3a2452fd2478858ecad509f7ea203905.jpg

Future Signings

Corona.thumb.jpg.6109a5d811aaf20addc521c0101293c6.jpg

Mandlazi.thumb.jpg.a41b25dfa2c58bdaa7043b15cfbe2bdc.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Europa League Draw 2061

elaug61.thumb.png.dbc1d35db101a46e55c583602a0158e8.png

We comfortably cruised passed Viking (more of that in a mo) in the sole qualifying round we had to face, getting an easy group. Sporting are decent but the other two shouldn't cause too much trouble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sep 2061

938678979_fixsep61(2).thumb.png.ae6533a91dab33a406ddbda8915d569a.png

oct61.thumb.png.5c861af613069dd8384713e6abc1e7a0.png

That was so nearly a perfect start, surprisingly so. Neunkirchen in the cup was essentially a free pass but that doesn't take anything away from what happened. We were struggling to make a breakthrough when Fabricio had to go off injured, to be replaced by Luciano Roger (none of the new signings started)... who promptly got 5 goals in around 20 minutes! Poor opposition or not that's quite a way to make your mark at a new club. It was a similar story in Norway in the Europa league despite the fact that we essentually stopped trying after 3 goals to save ourselves for the league. We all know that however easy the opposition on paper, you don't always rack up a convincing win so it was still notable that we managed it.

We started off the league with arguably our three toughest opponents, Bayern aside. Leverkusen had finished in that sweet 3rd place last year, Hamburg were 2nd as the only team in recent years capable of challenging (and occasionally unseating) Bayern while Gladbach were just behind us in 5th but were 3rd the year before. The fact that the latter two were away matches only added to the challenge yet we came away with 3 wins. We struggled to make a breakthrough against relatively easier teams but still have a 100% record after 6 matches. It gets better as since we play our next match on a Sunday I forgot to take the league table screenshot before anyone played, which messes it up a little bit does mean that I got to see Bayern draw at Osnabruck, giving us the chance to go 4 points ahead.

I still don't expect us to come out on top, especially having been there before with Heerenveen (which ended up in the usual battle for 4th). Nor do I think we'll be able to really shake Bayern off our tail while the going is good. It doesn't help that was have a relatively small squad. That includes underage players, 2 more who can't play in Europe, and even a few injuries can be problematic with not being able to rest players (and the international break is the only time we haven't had a midweek match) or having to juggle positions a little bit. In fact we already had 2 injuries (one for the rest of the year) before Augsburg cost us our goalscoring machine Mbah and winger Cabraja for 3-4 weeks, then our excellent keeper Kasic was out for a couple of matches with his understudy being a 17yr old Austrian (with admittedly excellent potential) who had never played before. I was glad we still beat Hoffenheim under the circumstances but the woeful Sporting performance was a warning of how things might turn sour.

It's hard to tell why we've been this good so far, especially as I'd say we were more like Tottenham than Liverpool in terms of being good but still clearly behind the top class teams. Luciano Roger has been a much better partner for Mbah up front than we've had before and even if we discount the 5 cup goals due to the opposition he's still managed 4 goals and assists each so far. He seems to be making Mbah (with 13 goals in 9 matches) deadlier than ever before while still being a proper alternative threat himself. Maybe there's also been a benefit from Michiels and a couple of other young players from last year now being 'run-in' with a full season behind them. They're still young and inexperienced but they're arguably finding their feet at this level. I just wish Michiels wouldn't keep trying to score from outside the area. He's an all-action central midfielder (and even set with a defensive duty) who scored just twice last season, that's not what he's there to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, bigmattb28 said:

Glad you're still posting dude. Good work.

Thank you. It had been a while since I even touched the game but I never wanted to end it here. Since I started my studies it's felt like I've had more to do than ever (with uni work and other things) and less time to do it in but I hope I get used to juggling everything. Getting used to firing up FM for shorter session than I would have considered worth it will help a lot as well, so we'll see how consistently I can give FM at least a little time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oct 2061

fixoct61.thumb.jpg.8f3d3aa5f0fc61cdba2ef4cbdcbbd7e3.jpg

oct611b.thumb.jpg.afd5fecef72f4b89134096217daf0872.jpg

eloct61.thumb.jpg.1f8fdf59312eee6ea3d092cd946aebd0.jpg

Once again we finished the month with a defeat, ending our great league run. However I'd rather focus on the rest. We still haven't had a midweek break all season and won't until the end of November, even with the international break a lot of our players would have played in one or both games so that arguably doesn't count either as any sort of a rest. We've also had injuries to key players and the fixture schedule means that injured players tend to miss more matches. Thankfully Eboh and Caranja were soon back after being injured in September but then Erlon Joe was out for a couple of months. It didn't help that his usual backup had already been injured early in the season and won't return until January. Thankfully I didn't have to juggle player's positions and roles too much but since I needed to make a lot of a changes to rest players it didn't help. Under the circumstances I'm delighted that the team kept delivering wins despite the tricky situation.

I'm not the sort of manager to field weakened teams in the cups, but occasionally I do make selection decisions to take off players or keep them on the bench to save them for a particular match. It seemed odd to do so for early league games over European ones but while Bayern aren't quite invincible, if you're in a direct battle with them you expect them to win most games so you can't take any chances. We were rarely that comfortable for a lot of most games, and that included the 4-1 wins over Koln and Darmstadt as their goals gave them the lead and an equalizer respectively. They were also both 5th at the time. We managed to get to the 10 wins out of 10 mark but it seemed inevitable that it was fall apart against Dortmund. It could still have gone the other way but dodgy aerial defending and a soft penalty gave them a 2-0 lead we couldn't overcome. It was a little unlucky but we had ridden our luck often enough that I couldn't complain.

Even with this start I wouldn't mind finishing clearly adrift of Bayern at the end, and would probably take 3rd, certainly 2nd. I'm still keeping an eye on the gap to 4th to at least make progress into Champions League qualification and feel like we're becoming a strong team in our own right, even if we're not there yet. There's still so much of the season to go to make an assessment regardless of how we do in a potential title race.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck for the rest of the season, Bayern Munich always seem to come out of nowhere when you think they're having a bad year. I know in my save they were 5th in February and 1st and ahead by 6 points when the season finished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, psychonaut said:

Good luck for the rest of the season, Bayern Munich always seem to come out of nowhere when you think they're having a bad year. I know in my save they were 5th in February and 1st and ahead by 6 points when the season finished.

Yes, it's interesting seeing how things change when you're many years in (like in Spain where Barcelona and Real Madrid were 5th and 6th a season or two ago or with Newcastle joining the English big boys) but that''s definitely not been the case with Bayern. Hamburg do occasionally beat them to the title but it's been a long time since anyone else had any success. That's why even at such an early stage and with 4 point lead for a month until the Dortmund defeat I was considering every league game to be crucial, and certainly more important than a Europa League group I felt would be easy enough to qualify from. No lead in the league could possibly be big enough to feel comfortable against Bayern, not until a lot later on. 

I often find myself to be the underdog in this situation, since I don't take over teams who are already serious title challengers. The pressure is on to win and success feels un-earned. Taking over a team like Schalke and trying to compete is a lot more my thing, and it's certainly managable. It does mean that I'm often out-gunned not only financially but also with the opposition having at least a few star players who are clearly superior to mine (squad depth being where my teams potentially have the advantage). I've mentioned before we're more like Tottenham than Liverpool or Man City, a good enough team in our own right with some very strong players but not at the same level as a side like Bayern and without the ability to get the sort of stars that they can. It's potentially frustrating and very tough but it feels rewarding. This is our first hint of being able to make a challenge which at least means there really isn't any pressure or expectation to keep it going. 2nd would still feel like a strong finish at this stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dec 2061

fixdec61.thumb.jpg.a8a5f8ec372571cb1ecfa65307279fa2.jpg

dec61.thumb.jpg.05461a9884d1765bf61f585e4d73e4f5.jpg

el61.thumb.jpg.659f394adf1fe4806fe375c3710ac667.jpg

After our league run ended against Dortmund last month, I was worried we were slowing down, especially after a surprise defeat in Belgium which helped open up what seemed like a comfortable group for ourselves and Sporting Not Lisbon. We still seemed to be able to keep going with wins over Osnabruck and Karlruhe but they were fairly easy opponents. The end of month curse struck again at Stuttgart, where we only rescued a draw in stoppage time (with what was an incredible counter-attacking run from Cabraja). Bayern had already drawn in that round but a failure to make a breakthough against a Munich 1860 (none of that 'lions' nonsense) side we should have beaten easily (and they didn't even have a shot) allowed Bayern to edge ahead at the top of the table.

We at least finished the year with a win at Dusseldorf but against Bayern that 1 point gap feels like it might as well be 5 or 6. Hamburg had actually briefly overtaken us into 2nd as well, though only due to having played 2 matches more. It was still a reminder that dropping just 7 points before Christmas hasn't gotten us as far as you'd expect, and not just when it comes to a potential straight fight with Bayern (who we haven't even played yet). It's still been an excellent first half of the season regardless of how good a few other teams have been as well, with barely a mid-week rest and key players out for a while. I really didn't expect this at all and if we roughly keep it up I would still be happy with 2nd or maybe even 3rd if Hamburg prove to be that strong as well. I'd certainly have been amazed at the idea that we'd head into the break just a point behind Bayern.

We made progression on other fronts as well. Thankfully we didn't need to make much effort to beat Third Division Offenbach in the 2nd round of the cup, but that just lead to a frustration I'd forgotten about when it comes to being a German team in the Europa League in this version. The 3rd round of the cup (the last 16) is played the day before the final match of the Europa League group stage. That just makes it satisfying to win both as we did here (and not for the first time either), even without having a squad that meant being able to just field different teams. Playing the cup match in defensive 'low-risk' mode did the trick against Hoffenheim, setting up a home quarter-final against Augsburg that should be managable. Despite only making a couple of changes, 86% was the lowest condition of anyone starting against Sporting (with a few still in the 90's). It's a little lower than is ideal but is still managable and we came back from a goal behind to seal top spot in the group, having already confirmed qualification with a win against Shamrock previously.

Unfortunately we drew a really, really short straw. Granada are one of those smaller teams that becomes a top side in-game with 2 Champions League titles to their name in the save. They have no league titles but are 2nd as things stand so are still very much a really strong side, sort of like being drawn against Athletico Madrid now. If we beat them, the potential opponents are QPR or Lyon, so not much joy there either. I guess with the situation being the way it is in the league, an earlier European exit wouldn't be the worst thing. It's been clear from the start of this season how much we'd need to put everything into the league, and that might just be to secure a top 3 finish as things stand. Having a much easier schedule in the second half of the season than the first wouldn't hurt.

el61b.thumb.jpg.5341ba5bf6ed97c305b608135ace6590.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Feb-ish 2062

fixfeb62.thumb.jpg.253007d6aece9f88cc9f7b9c36a7c136.jpg

feb62.thumb.jpg.2e1242632b4884c31a2b9b44dca4ac31.jpg

Hopefully one result stands out, but I'll get to that. We returned to action in January with the games coming thick and fast, and not easy ones either to mirror the start of the season. I was delighted to get the home wins over Hamburg in particular (for reasons I'll get to) and Gladbach and while Leverkusen have been under-performing this season, they can still be considered to be a strong side so defeat wasn't entirely surprising, if disappointing. That dropped us to 4 points behind Bayern, which looked near-impossible to make up.

Looking through their team I had a little revelation about Bayern. They were just not as good as I thought they'd be. Maybe that's a consequence of Germany being the lowest ranked of the big 5 leagues (which won't be helped by Bayern's early exit from Europe this season) but they only had a few players at the sort of level I though they'd have. They're still a strong side of course but really don't really look much better than we do. The big advantage they have is experience. That assured me that they weren't a team to run scared of at all. Even then it was still a surprise to wipe the floor with them so convincingly. Since they had dropped rare points to Werder Bremen in the previous round, that meant we re-took top spot by a point.

Bayern62.thumb.png.03fc8c54998c37d329e0e545cf82a236.png

Staying top was the difficult part, as throughout the season we've struggled to make our superiority count against weaker sides. That was very much the case against struggling Frankfurt and against in-form Augsburg until they scored. Actually that's a rather generous description for what was essentually bundling the ball over the line. Thankfully we quickly turned the game around but had already lost our Nigerian goal machine Mbah (with 24 goals in 30 matches this seasn, 15 in 20 in the league) for up to 6 weeks with a broken arm. Our luck finally ran out against Hoffenheim but only just, as we looked set for another decent 1-0 win when Fabricio got on the end of a free-kick with a great header. Unfortunately it was their free-kick and the usually excellent 'Princess' Jasmin Kasic was understandbly stunned as the ball flew into his net. That was all it took to hand top spot to Bayern again, not helped by messing up an away leg win against Granada to go out of Europe in the following match.

Assuming we don't try and mess up what should be an easy top 3 finish by this point, this should still be seen as a great season whatever else happens. Bayern and Hamburg (who have quite a few titles of their own) have been an unbroken top 2 for over a decade and they have both been incredibly consistent winning machines this season. Aside from all it's taking to even keep close to Bayern, Hamburg have remained pretty much on our tail the entire time despite the fact we beat them both times. While we still have to go to Munich (and I expect Bayern to get payback) we otherwise finished with most of the tougher teams after we played them the first time so hopefully we can keep it up a while longer. I like to imagine that this season was a potential warning shot across both their bows that we want to get in on the action at the top as well.

I decided to continue with the quarter-final with the cup as it was only at the very start of March. Unfortunately that competition's questionable scheduling struck again as we had a lot of players who weren't quite back from internationals, forcing a lot of changes and a limited sub's bench. Thankfully it didn't weaken us too much (most notably in goal) and we were able to overcome them pretty comfortably. The semi-final is away to Stuttgart but if we overcome that we would face either Darmstadt or Second Division Freiburg. Definitely a decent shot of a trophy there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

April Cliffhanger

apr62.thumb.jpg.befc5696be87f71a3f4d26c64d5fab59.jpg

I haven't quite got the time to finish the season and upload so I thought I'd leave this here. We're part of a top three that just haven't given each other an inch all season, with the advantage changing a few times over the past couple of rounds. Whatever happens I'll be delighted to have pushed the other two (who haven't been beaten or split for over a decade) so hard. We go to Munich 1860 before finishing at home to Dusseldorf, Bayern are at home to Frankfurt then travel to Augsburg while Hamburg are away both times to Werder Bremen and Leverkusen.

Oh and check this kid out...

Hoxha.thumb.jpg.9ad305d18351fb246fd0799d9b4e6fda.jpg

I've already got a couple of youth players featuring in the team with a couple more waiting in the wings for the chance, or even to be old enough to play. That will be helped by upgrading the youth facilities to 'top' over the past year and managing go expand junior coaching to 'excellent'. I rarely get really good youth players coming through so it'll be nice to be able to have quite a few here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May 2062

fix62.thumb.jpg.bed02e743bbdb6534c9e1593c065e9b8.jpg

final62.thumb.jpg.09df272dcd32fe52ec5b8aaef6901211.jpg

Yes, we did it!!! It was a close run thing though with the advantage shifting between us and Bayern quite a few times. The first shift came during our wins against Nurnburg and Bremen, during which time Bayern surprisingly lost to Karlsruhe then they were kind enough along with Hamburg to hold each other to a stalemate. That gave us a 4 point lead but we still had to go to Munich, and failing to keep a lead against Dortmund put us 'in range' when we played them despite having managed to overcome Koln (4th at the time) in the other potentially tough game we had left. We fell behind to Bayern and despite an equaliser giving us hope, I had to admit we fully deserved our defeat. They had a game in hand so didn't go top but it put things back in their hands.

Bayern barely had time to celebrate when they ran up against Stuttgart in the aforementioned game in hand and drew... only for the same to happen to us. Like with Dortmund it was a case of a 1-0 lead not being enough. This time Kasic went out of his area to clear the ball and while he didn't go anywhere near as wide as some instances I've seen, it was still enough to present an open goal that they took advantage of. Bayern however stumbled again so we remained top by a squeak, as you can see above. As it happened the final two matches were fairly simple as we got the two wins we needed. Meanwhile Hamburg's fixtures were too much for them as they lost then drew (though they still had a small chance going into the final day), Bayern won then went behind at Augsburg and missed a penalty. They eventually equalised but we were home and dry by that point so for the first time in 12 years someone other than Bayern or Hamburg claim the title. In fact it's probably been that long since anyone even split them and finished 2nd.

We followed up our league triumph by completing the double, though by that point it was ours to lose. We managed to beat Stuttgart in the semi-final already knowing that Freiburg (who finished 14th in the Second Division) had beaten Darmstadt on penalties in the other semi-final. Despite the final being played just a few days after the end of the league season (itself just a few days after the penultimate round) we easily cruised home. Admittedly the scheduling was a tougher challenge in the cup this season than anyone we actually drew (Stuttgart being the highest ranking team we had to face) but I hope that doesn't take any of the gloss off.

cup62.thumb.jpg.7cce75a7c7cd7f151509c5296a796111.jpg

It's been quite a season, and a great reminder of why I just wasn't ready to pack it in just yet. This season was a great blend of being brilliant (winning 26 out of 34 league matches and dropping just 19 points) while still facing a genuine challenge from both Bayern and Hamburg that made it feel very rewarding to somehow overcome such a high bar. That goes double with the fact that weeks without a midweek match were very much the exception, though we were lucky with injuries after a handful (though to key players) in the first few months. The exception was Mbah getting a 3rd injury shortly after recovering from his second but we could easily cover that. Aside from Luciano Roger turning into a goal machine in his place, 17yr old Klim Barbaev was one of a few squad players who suddenly shone later on, having previously only gotten a small number of appearences but still getting a few goals and assists. Honourable mentions to Nene and Andre as well, unseating more established players. It was very much a squad effort, and which that fixture congestion it could hardly be anything else.

I wouldn't have minded if we had missed out, not just because of how well we performed but since there's a feeling that this was a team whose time was yet to come, though in many cases (like Heerenveen and Gillingham) it potentially never does. I might find myself overstocked all over if I'm not careful with players due to arrive or come of age at different times. For example we had 5 forward available with one more set to arrive in the summer on a free (though he might play on the wing instead), the young South African waiting to turn 18 to arrive and little Mallet already here and waiting to be old enough to play. There are certainly decisions to be made over who is most likely to be part of a successful team in the long-term with some players I might otherwise keep having to be sold with 'regret', probably starting with Fabricio this summer. A little squad redundancy isn't a bad thing but only to a point and individial players can only be kept around on that basis for a little while for the most part. In the case of the forwards at least out current first choice duo both being 28 would help create openings when the younger players are potentially ready to fill them.

Star Player: From very early on I knew it would be Luciano Roger, whatever else happened. That wasn't so much on the basis of his goals (he was doing fine, but didn't hit his stride until later) but how he seemed to be one of those individual signings that just makes a big difference to a team, being a far more effective partner for Mbah than we had before. Even the fact that it took a while for him to score multiple goals in a match (his eye-catching cup debut aside) was something I saw as a positive as he wasn't racking up the goals against just a few opponents. He proved effective as our main goalscorer in his own right when he had to take over for Mbah. I wonder if things would have gone very differently in the Netherlands if he hadn't just been out of my price range in my last summer for Heerenveen.

roger62.thumb.jpg.75a6f31c8e5c69649c6f15aed36fe32e.jpg

Squad Stats

stats62.thumb.jpg.ec50c59f4c1073dd34a33edb7d9ef0e4.jpg

World Cup call-ups

int62.thumb.jpg.111d79f12fccef6ce0879aa4baf6e6d6.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer 2062

This was a relatively quiet summer, and for a while it looked like there would be no deals completely done within the window (as opposed to previously arranged transfers going through or setting up any for the future). It would have been nice to build on our title win and solidify our position so I could feel more confident about doing it again but that wasn't an easy thing at all. We're a bit of a 7/10 team, and still without the money or reputation to really improve on that. More experienced players in particular (like Luciano Roger) seem very thin in the ground making younger signings almost a necessity rather than a policy. Even then, clear cut potential stars like Michiels aren't popping up very much ether. I guess that's more realistic but not how it often happens in the game.

There were a couple of free signings waiting to arrive... which in hindsight I may not have made. I hadn't quite forgotten about last year's future signings (both due next year) but neither did they feature in my calculations when it came to making deals for two players in much the same position, who might only end up a as very short term options. Michels is at least a bit of an upgrade as a squad player (and means Nene doesn't have to deputise in multiple positions) but I didn't have a clear role for Martinez, aside from 'slightly better than a couple of players I can now get rid of'. However aside from the slight improvement in squad depth being able to play on the wing may help. A few of the forwards we have or will soon have (either getting old enough to move or play) can do so which may help resolve the severe overcrowding we might have up front before long.

For a while the only deal made was with another Mexican youngster to arrive in a couple of years time for £3M. As good as Verlhac and Reuter were at right-back last year that's not their best position so making sure we have enough proper full-backs will help, and there's no immediate rush. Otherwise I didn't want to risk getting in more players who might never get much of a chance (we already have one or two players at severe risk of that) meaning I held fire on more young players. I did lob bids for a few players but they wouldn't have been worth their potential fees for mere 'maybes'. Perhaps being out of the game for a while meant I wasn't so sure about players I'd have previously gone for.

There was one deal fully sorted within the window. I went back to Heerenveen (for the second time this year and the fourth overall) for Bosch, a young central defender who had appeared through the youth system while I was there. He did seem like he would end up as an upgrade so seemed worth pushing the boat out for at £11M. Along with a player from our own youth ranks now being old enough to play and the aforementioned Verlhac and Reuter more available to play in central defence, that made at least one of Benali or Breu potentially obsolete (for one thing Bosch was already as good as either). I held off selling either (though I could have gotten as much as 25-30M for both) as it seemed like a bad idea to ditch our experienced defenders but maybe grumblings about a lack of playing time will make the decision for me. Having previously resisted, I finished off the summer with a cheap deal for a young Mexican forward, because why not by this point? A Mexican restaurant in Gelsenkirchen is looking like a sound business investment for anyone who spots the opportunity.

In general with couple of exceptions up front, there didn't seem to be any need to get rid of anyone right away, not wanting to judge players too harshly. There are definitely decisions to be made over the next few years not just about who to keep but where there might play, for example Vilson might move up to central midfield if I can't get a good long-term alternative to Michiels, which in turn would leave the door open more for Reuter to take over his existing role. I'd say we already have a lot of promising ingredients for a very strong team in the future, without needing to make a big shopping trip. I just need to work out what to do with them.

I'm not specifically thinking about retaining the title, especially if Bayern set the bar anywhere near as high as last time. It doesn't help that they made 3 very strong signings for £68M over the summer, money we can only dream of for players we have no hope of attracting ourselves. That includes my former Heerenveen full-back Jefferson Severino, though he had already moved to Marseille. He could have quite a reunion with our former Heerenveen players. Instead I think top 3 is a more realistic goal, and see how we managed to do in the Champions League. Hamburg by contrast have't signed a single player going into the start of the season.

Signings

Martinez.thumb.jpg.4d926a0cde9b3aea2671cbf20c2b058a.jpg

Michel.thumb.jpg.6fa95fadb7a754e73130e8139354d571.jpg

Bosch.thumb.jpg.0d6f6cf027f87b6b1ad508c6aa815ab4.jpg

Future Signings

 

Salinas.jpg

 

Rangel.jpg

 

trans62.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CL Draw 2062

claug62.thumb.jpg.ce495d8064f72bb00f4b92e8dbb2b300.jpg

Oh that's a tricky one! Juventus seemed tough enough for begin with, then looking through the other teams I saw the quality that St.Etienne have some incredibly forwards in particular. Rangers aren't quite as good but they still have some pretty strong players so they won't be easy opponents either. It's definitely set to be an interesting group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the Mexican that you got on a free, cracking deal. That is a very tough set of fixtures for you. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oct 2062

fixoct62.thumb.jpg.548752261279329c27381a2c40642541.jpg

oct62.thumb.jpg.9e3be50693bfcc2721a609cd59a79800.jpg

cloct62.thumb.jpg.6f407ce470377fb26304637502ce9551.jpg

The season did not start too well with two defeats in out first three league games already making it seem like a tall order to challenge for the title again. Thankfully things have stabilised but we're still not quite winning consistently. In general we have been playing very well, with the opening day defeat to Koln being a classic case of being 'FMed'. The other defeat is the only case of being genuinely poor as a team though I have found myself making performance-related changes frustratingly often. Otherwise it's been more of a case of lots of dominance and pressure that hasn't always amounted to goals.

Things have been going better in Europe. The early draw with Rangers was part of the stumbling start to the season (and their only point so far) but wasn't too bad a result in an off itself. With the group being as tightly fought as expected, home wins against St.Etienne and Juventus (just!) leave us in a very good position at the half-way point. However we still have to go to France and Italy so I know we've got a bit more work to do in order to make it through. With a draw like that this was always going to be a group where it would feel good to do so however close a call it would be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...