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[FM20] Bayer Leverkusen Thread & Team Guide

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Introduction
One of Europe's greatest stepping stone clubs, Bayer Leverkusen find themselves back in the Champions League this year and in possession of a stronger squad than ever before. There has never been a better time to take control at the BayArena, and not just because of their return to Europe.

Kai Havertz is rumoured to be leaving at the end of the season for Bayern Munich or maybe even elsewhere, and it's looking increasingly likely that this will be his last season playing in front of the Werkself. Keeping him will be a challenge, especially if you replicate their own performances and find yourself sitting outside the Top 6 and rock bottom of your Champions League group. You also have to prevent the likes of Jonathan Tah, Leon Bailey and Paulinho being lured away to clubs that actually manage to qualify for European football every year.

Being such a young club, this edition of Football Manager adds some exciting new features to help you get the most out of Bayer Leverkusen. The new Development screen in particular will help you to get the most out of the young players you have, but perhaps more interesting is the ability to request a 2nd team. The club actually had a 2nd team back in 2014 but decided to abolish it due to the lack of potential among their young players, instead preferring to loan out the few exceptions. Should you manage to improve your youth facilities and find yourself with enough quality prospects, reinstating the 2nd team would ensure they play regular competitive football under your control!


History
The first team was founded in 1904 as "TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen" by employees of the Bayer pharmaceutical company, whose headquarters are in Leverkusen and from which the club draws its name. Upon achieving promotion to the Bundesliga in 1979, they became the first fully company-owned club to play in the top tier of German football and, less than a decade later, secured their first major trophy when they won the UEFA Cup in 1988.

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With the turn of the century came the promise of real success; by the end of the 1999-2000 season, Bayer Leverkusen had one hand firmly on the Bundesliga trophy and only needed a draw in their last fixture against SpVgg Unterhaching to win the title. However, an own goal from eventual club icon Michael Ballack wrapped up a disappointing 2-0 defeat, while Bayern Munich clinched the title with a 3-1 victory over Werder Bremen.

Two years later, the club once again had the chance to win the league as they sat five points clear of Borussia Dortmund with just three matches left to be played. They had just set a European record, becoming the first club to reach the final of the UEFA Champions League without ever having won a national championship, and as if this wasn't enough, they had also reached the final of the DFB Pokal. The events that followed have come to be known by fans as the "Treble Horror", as they surrendered the title to Borussia Dortmund and lost both cup finals to Real Madrid and Schalke 04.

Now dubbed "Neverkusen" by some of the English media, the club is yet to return to such heights. However, following a 4th-place finish last season, that could be about to change.


Kit & Facilities
Since their foundation, Bayer Leverkusen have always worn primarily black and red kit. This season, they opted to retain last season's home kit and use it as their away kit, which not only cut manufacturing costs in half but also ensured fans would likely have a free current strip for the new season.

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Leverkusen is one of the oldest industrial cities in Germany but also one of the smallest, home to just over 160,000 people. Because of this, when the BayArena was constructed in 1958 it had a capacity of just 30,000. The stadium was planned to be a venue for the 2006 World Cup until Leverkusen were forced to withdraw their bid, as it failed to meet FIFA capacity regulations.


Expectations
Following their impressive fourth-place finish last season, Bayer Leverkusen find themselves competing in the UEFA Champions League. You will be expected to reach the knockout stage of the competition, and at the same time ensure qualification for next year once again. This means that yet another Top 4 finish is required. As if this isn't ambitious enough, the board will also expect you to challenge for the Bundesliga title next season!

In the process of achieving these targets, you will be required to sign players under the age of 23 for the first team. The board would prefer it if these players were either German or based in Germany, and will not allow you to sign players over the age of 30 except for some specific circumstances.

Edited by BanOly

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The Squad
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(Left to right)
Top Row: Sinkgraven, Alario, Dragovic, Sven Bender, Havertz, Retsos, Pohjanpalo, Jedvaj (loan).
Top Middle Row: Demirbay, Baumgartlinger, Lars Bender, Bellarabi, Boller (sold), Stanilewicz, Weiser.
Bottom Row: Diaby, Paulinho, Ozcan, Hradecky, Lomb, Volland, Wendell.
Absent: Tah, Aranguiz, Amiri, Bailey.

Goalkeepers
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Defenders
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Midfielders
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Strikers
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Key Players

GK - Lukas Hradecky
When Bernd Leno was sold to Arsenal for €25m, Bayer Leverkusen defied all expectation to bring in Hradecky from high-flying Frankfurt on a free transfer. He'd just won the DFB-Pokal and, in his first year at Leverkusen, guided them into the top four and in turn Champions League qualification. The Fin uses his long arms and legs to cut out dangerous balls and goalscoring chances, as well as win one-on-ones.

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DEF - Jonathan Tah
Tah has been a Hot Prospect at Leverkusen since FM17 and, while his overall development has been slow, remains one of the best central defenders on the game for his age. There's plenty of time yet for him to realise his potential, and he took a massive leap forward last season when he captained the German Under-21 side to the Euro final. In an attack-minded side, Tah is your last line of defence.

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MID - Kai Havertz
The talisman of die Werkself. Whether he's the next Toni Kroos, the next Mesut Özil or the next Michael Ballack, what you can't deny is that he has the potential to become greater than any of them. He boasted 17 goals, 4 assists and a 90% pass success last season, and logged the highest top speed of any Bundesliga midfielder. Ladies and gentlemen, Kicker's "Outfield Player of the Season."

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ATT - Leon Bailey
An outstanding debut season in the Bundesliga saw Kicker label him "on the verge of being world-class", and 11Freunde fanzine labeled him "Newcomer of the Year." Sadly, a couple of muscle injuries have kept him off the pitch so far this season but fortunately for us he remains fit on Football Manager so you can make the most of his speed, finesse and dribbling ability.

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Transfer Suggestions
Personally, I would suggest playing without transfer budgets. Every player at Bayer Leverkusen has a purpose, and helps the team to train and develop. There are very few players in the squad, if any, that can be improved upon for the same cost, or with the funds you have at your disposal.

Should you decide to enable transfers, you will be given just €5m to invest in your squad. With key players already in every position, you would most likely be looking to improve the quality of depth in some positions, and I would suggest you start with offloading two players struggling to break into the first team.

Joel Pohjanpalo is best known among die Werkself for a brief 15 minutes of fame - when Bayer Leverkusen found themselves trailing Hamburg 1-0, it was Pohjanpalo who came off the bench to score three goals and wrap up all three points. That was three years ago, and today he's 24 and still yet to achieve the tremendous potential once expected of him. With both Volland and Alario higher up the pecking order, a loan move would be the ideal solution.

 Aleksandar Dragovic signed from Dynamo Kyiv for a staggering €18m, and was expected to be a first-choice in the middle of the defence. Instead, he found himself overshadowed by both Ömer Toprak and Jonathan Tah, and spent the majority of the season watching games from the bench. Despite a loan move to title-winners Leicester City, Dragovic has been unable to find form and now most likely makes up fourth choice behind Sven Bender, Tah and Retsos. Perhaps the time has come to recoup some of that original investment, and free up a whopping €58,000 a week in wages!

Edited by BanOly

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Philosophy
Former Bayer Leverkusen manager Roger Schmidt, previously of SC Paderborn and Red Bull Salzburg, introduced what I choose to describe as "seven-second football." Whenever Leverkusen gained possession as a result of their heavy press, they would look to get a shot away within seven seconds, while the defence weren't properly set up yet. This often resulted in very intense, high-scoring games, and it is this tactic that I'm going to focus on first.

On paper, the team typically lined up in a 4-4-2. However, out of possession it appears more as a 4-2-4, with the two central midfielders pulling back to cover the back 4 and the wingers moving up alongside the forwards. Together the front four would press narrow and force the opposition onto the flanks where the opponent only has 180 degrees where he can play the ball.

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Upon winning the ball, the entire team pushes forward to overload passing options and test the opposition goalkeeper as soon as possible. To accomplish this, Schmidt will ensure his front four are not only energetic, but also that each player offers something different going forward. The one thing they must all have in common, though, is their ability to score, from almost anywhere on the pitch but especially from outside the box.

Current manager Peter Bosz retains the traditional Gegenpress that we've seen at the club for some time now, but pulls his punches when attacking; as a disciple of Johan Cryuff, "possession is nine tenths of the law." Lining up in a 4-1-2-3 formation, when in possession Leverkusen now tend to retain control of the ball and instead of instantly attacking the goal, attempt to craft out multiple high-quality chances instead.

In the attacking third, you wouldn't be wrong to compare his philosophy to that of Pep Guardiola at both Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Since possession is so important to Bosz, his preference is to stack the team with at least four players capable of playing in the number 10 role.
 

Tactics
It's a different time from when Roger Schmidt was at the club, and since then many things have changed, most notably the footballing climate, and the players Leverkusen currently have at their disposal. This means that 4-4-2 will almost certainly be out of the question, especially given the amount of playmakers at the club and the fact Schmidt's tactics required both CMs be defensive. To go this route would be to waste players such as Amiri and Havertz.

Instead I've retained his philosophy but with a more modern formation. The 4-2-3-1 will get the most out of our squad depth and ensure that the midfield stays fully packed. Since we're playing with Havertz in AM and he's left-footed, I may end up moving him slightly to the right to open up long shot opportunities with his stronger foot, and that will in turn give Bailey more space should he decide to cut inside. That movement would also help him link up with Bellarabi on the wing to help him get the cross off.

My backup tactic is slightly more complicated than all-out attack on the counter, and is more similar to Bosz' current tactic in that we have our playmakers all sat centrally creating a slow, controlled build-up that likely results in creating more chances. Both wingers will now aim to cut inside and exploit the space left by the lack of an AM, while the wing-backs overlap to cover the space they leave behind and help offer more passing options.

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Edited by BanOly

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One of my wanna-manage team as soon as full release is out! Thanks for the great intro post.

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Thanks @Pavi glad you liked the intro! I'm starting a save as soon as the full version is released, and will be posting my progress on here. You and anyone else reading this is welcome to do the same!

Edited by BanOly

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On 17/11/2019 at 18:27, BanOly said:

Thanks @Pavi glad you liked the intro! I'm starting a save as soon as the full version is released, and will be posting my progress on here. You and anyone else reading this is welcome to do the same!

How are you doing so far @BanOly ?

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Thanks @DirtyJoe!

@matsnor21 Progress has been slow, I've been working a lot of overtime in the build-up to Christmas :D but hopefully should be able to post a full update soon!
Also been watching real football and thoroughly enjoyed beating Bayern Munich for the second time this year!

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Pre-Season 2019-20
So as previously mentioned, I will be posting updates on my own save with Bayer Leverkusen for anyone who's interested to follow and see what sort of dynasty we can have, hopefully win their first major trophy soon and generally just enjoy managing my favourite team! I'm starting without transfer budgets not just because of the realism but because I don't know who I'd buy or sell anyway, and to be honest I can see that being my biggest challenge during the save. Since I'm a massive fan of the club, it's going to be really difficult to sell anyone and harder still to find replacements!

I have also included some editor data files, the main one being real German fixtures! Credit to AML for that one. The skin I will be using throughout my saves on FM20 is the same as every other year, the incredible TCS Skin for FM2020 by @bluestillidie00 that just gets better and better every year, so do feel free to go and check that out!
 

Squad Overview
At the start of any new save, my priority with friendlies is to try out my tactical ideas and test my players' weaker positions and roles to see how capable they are of performing in different areas of my tactic. In the meantime, we have to keep one eye on the future and that involves renewing expiring contracts and hiring staff if needed.

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As you can see, we have five players' contracts expiring at the end of the season. Charles Aranguiz is one of my favourite players on the game and in real life, and I'm going to offer him a new contract immediately to keep him at the club. I'm also aware that if you start with budgets enabled, Bayern Munich tend to show an interest in him, and that should give you some idea as to how good of a player he is and how hard he works for the team.

Most of our Under 19 squad have contracts expiring at the end of the season and, as the youth squad is very thin to say the least, I will also be renewing most of these over the course of the season. The two backup goalkeepers will be looked at, but as the Team Report comes in, I get the feeling that we could improve in this area and so I might look to bring in someone younger and better than both Ozcan and Lomb in the near future, with the potential to eventually replace Hradecky who is himself ageing.

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The lack of quality depth in the centre of defence could be attributed to having Jedvaj out on loan, so that should be sorted come the end of the season.
 

Tactical Approach
I'm a big fan of Roger Schmidt's philosophy, and so I'm going to try to emulate his style of play as much as I can. Since I have Havertz and Amiri though, I've decided not to go with his 4-4-2 system, and instead I'm using an asymmetric 4-2-3-1 with the CAM becoming a RAM and acting as Schmidt's right-sided "Deep-Lying Forward." The striker will become a LS and remain a Pressing Forward.

Having the RAM benefits Havertz, as he can cut inside from the right and find shooting more comfortable from his stronger left foot. Nadiem Amiri has experience as a RAM from his time at Hoffenheim where he essentially played as a more advanced and attacking-exclusive Mezzala, shifting wide to spray crosses as well as passes into the box for someone able to head the ball - in this case that could be Alario - and that is why the striker will be on the left; not just to retain that 4-4-2-ish shape, but to keep the forward as far away from the RAM as possible when they're either crossing the ball in, or cutting in themselves.

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As you can see, the cover options on the right are good too and the tactic is very interchangeable with the players we have at our disposal. I was very excited to use a tactic that revolves around a "Very Attacking" mentality on Football Manager, as I'm never usually that attacking, but during the course of pre-season I was surprised at how effective the tactic was and how little tweaking I had to do in order to get it close to what I wanted. At first it was difficult to get the message across to my players to press the opposition wide, but eventually I came up with something of a workaround; by setting my team instructions to play narrow, my team would already possess a narrow shape and therefore will naturally press the opposition from the centre of the pitch to the wider areas, at least in theory.
 

Friendlies
With the main goal being to improve and adapt my primary tactic, I made sure to arrange several small friendlies at the start of the pre-season and work up the quality of opposition and intensity from there. The results ended up being nothing short of spectacular; we looked formidable against the lower league sides as you'd expect, and as the team grew into the tactic, I started to see it come to life, both good and bad.

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Instead of scoring less goals against the more talented opposition, our goal output remained the same as I slowly and carefully adapted my tactics to take advantage of the weaknesses of each individual opponent. Villarreal played two defenders who were very capable in the air, so I made sure to play Havertz in the RAM position and keep the ball on the floor; by contrast, against Napoli's very capable ball-winning defenders, we had Amiri launch crosses into the box, one of which Diaby latched onto.

The only downside was, as our team grew into the attacking side of the philosophy, as a result we started dropping clean sheets. I imagine this is something that will continue throughout the season but as is the way with this philosophy, we will have to look to outscore the opposition.
 

Player Performances
Tah, Bailey and Amiri didn't get back from holiday until the Cagliari match so it was hard to judge them, but there were some interesting performances that made me rethink my team selection going into the season.

Aleksandar Dragovic put in some good performances and unfortunately Retsos failed to match his input. Karim Bellarabi had several great games and scored a few goals too, but these all came against the lower league teams and once we started playing against tougher opposition he became almost invisible. Lucas Alario struggled as a Poacher but has since adapted well to being played as a Pressing Forward; he's been hitting consistent form and has been helped along by Kevin Volland's fantastic progress adapting to his new positional training on the right wing. Sven Bender was most consistent throughout and has firmly solidified his place as my key centre-back this season.

Unfortunately none of the younger players managed to impress me and as a result have all been demoted back to the Under 19 squad. None of the first-team players have been noticeably poor so far except Nadiem Amiri, but since he's only been played as an attacking midfielder so far and not in his more natural CM position, he needs a little more time before we can properly judge his progress.
 

Looking Ahead...
I'm really looking forward to the start of the season, and we kick it off with the DFB-Pokal match against Karlsruher SC. A somewhat easy start to the season will quickly turn sour as we find ourselves taking on first TSG Hoffenheim and then title challengers Borussia Dortmund away from home at the Signal Iduna Park.

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Our target for the coming months will be aiming for at least 20 points by the end of October - five more than we managed to collect in real life.

Edited by BanOly

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Nice to her about the progress @BanOly

Bayer 04 is always my go to team. With my two all time favourite FM players In Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey. 
 

i always tend to make a test game with them, before my Malin save. And actually won the league and was knocked out on away goals In the Champions League semi against psg. I changed a lot of players, getting rid of L.Bender, Dragovic, Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger, Bellarabi and Alario. 
 

Replaced them with Vagnoman, Pongracic, Maia, Berge, Szoboszlai and Selke. But decided to quit and start over with the new patch. And now im so dissapointed with IT.

the Scout reports of the players are bad, the same players i bought. Pongracic (was 80, now 63) , Szoboszlai (80-84- now 63-71). Even if their potential are the same. 

the same with my star player paulinho, with 25 goals. Before i EAs always 4 *, now only 3,5*. 
 

does anybody know why? 
 

will give IT another go tomorrow, after Two days with frustration 

Edited by matsnor21

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October 2019
Our good form continued into the start of the season, for the most part. We just about managed to meet our ambitious target of 20 points from our first 9 league games, and as a bonus we've actually done well in the Champions League too!

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We kept the 100% win rate going for a while, but were very fortunate to even grab just the one point against Fortuna Dusseldorf; only a red card and a penalty gave us the opportunity to level the scoring. There was then another red card in the Hoffenheim match, which solidified the result for us as we were already 1-0 up, Kerem Demirbay scoring against his former club.

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Then came the first massive fixture of the season, away from home to Borussia Dortmund. We fielded our strongest side on paper but still managed to concede within 120 seconds thanks to a poor clearance from Aranguiz that only made it as far as Thomas Delaney on the edge of the box. Unfortunately Hradecky couldn't get enough on the shot to prevent it from slipping past him into the bottom corner of the net. Ironically, it was a misplaced pass from Delaney that was cut out by Havertz in the 86th minute, and started a quick counter-attack that ended with Volland converting from less than ten yards out. Havertz then grabbed the winning goal late on in the last minute of stoppage time when he ran onto an excellent through ball from Bellarabi and curved a placed shot around Burki.

We drew Zenit St. Petersburg, Atalanta and last season's runners-up Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League group stage, and kicked off our progress in the competition with a valuable point away from home at Atalanta. Unfortunately our unbeaten run finally came to an end in the next match at Augsburg; despite a good performance in the first half, a needless challenge from Baumgartlinger earned him a second booking and left us with ten men for the final half hour. We were unable to hold on until full time, and a late goal was enough for us to record our first loss of the campaign.

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Our second-biggest Champions League group stage fixture started well, we were awarded a penalty and the chance to make it 2-0 inside of half an hour but Lloris did well to keep it out. We’d looked the better team, but what happened to Tottenham at half time is anyone’s guess as they fell apart in the second half! A truly astounding scoreline but more importantly our first win of the group and a massive three points. It would have been nice to capitalise but unfortunately a poor performance against Zenit meant we immediately gave up the top spot, meaning that with just two games to go and only two points between everyone in the group, it's still wide open!

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In the Bundesliga, we closed out October with three hard-fought games and seven crucial points. We already had control of the Leipzig match before Konrad Laimer found himself sent off in the closing moments of the game, but still went on to record another two of our signature 3-1 wins! The Frankfurt game was tough as most away games in Germany are, but credit to my players for holding onto the 2-goal margin in the Werder Bremen game after Bender got sent off in the 72nd minute.

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That leaves us three points ahead of third-placed FC Schalke but trailing league leaders FC Bayern by 5 points. We're firmly embedded into the Top 4 by the same number of points though, so it's a good result considering the tactic and some of the tough games we've been faced with already.
 

Tactical Approach
Given the success of the current tactic, I ended up removing the alternative tactics I had saved and instead am focusing on this one. Occasionally we'll look to focus the ball down the middle if we're not having enough success out wide, and against opposition with slow attacking players we sometimes look to deploy an offside trap. Our defensive line is already sat high up the pitch, but I would just change the Covering defender to a regular Defend role.

If there was an advertisement for my tactic then obviously it would be the Tottenham game, everything just went perfectly and Havertz scoring two goals just shows how effective it is having him play in the position and role that he does. With such an ability to score goals, I didn’t just want him to be my Playmaker, I wanted to get the best out of him and I feel playing him as an Attacking Midfielder has definitely done that.
 

Player Performances
Well, Leon Bailey had a fantastic and enjoyable start to the season, putting away 4 goals in his first 2 competitive matches. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to be the most consistent and his purple patch evaporated rather quickly. He started to become complacent during big matches and this affected his performance, so eventually I started to give Paulinho and Diaby the extra playing time they were after. Daley Sinkgraven was the standout player in his first appearance at Augsburg despite the loss, and as a result earnt more playing time. Despite impressing in the latter stages of pre-season, Lucas Alario has been really poor and has now failed to find the net in his last 9 appearances, 5 of them starts. Finally, Karim Bellarabi proved he can perform well on the left wing with a Man of the Match performance against Leipzig, but unfortunately suffered an injury in training before the Zenit game and won’t be available for at least a month.

Despite our positive league position, our best player so far this season has been Tin Jedvaj over at Augsburg, who contributed to our first loss and hasn’t put a foot wrong in a game so far all season. I’m already looking forward to getting him back, as he’s developing really well too!
 

Upcoming Fixtures
We close out the month with the next round of the DFB-Pokal, before heading into a very busy and competitive November. Every Bundesliga match is a big one, and with the Champions League group being set the way it is, we really need to be looking to win every single game. It's going to be a struggle, and having Bellarabi out injured isn't going to help matters.

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Summary & Experience
Thankfully, we're in for a little more of a relaxed December before heading into the Winter Break. We'll have plenty of downtime to analyse the team and look at potential signings, but for now I'm thinking that Pohjanpalo will almost certainly be loaned out, as he's yet to make a single competitive appearance!

It's been widely reported that there are a lot of penalties being awarded, but so far I've only seen four in my 12 matches, three of them mine. I have noticed however that only one of them was scored; the other three saved.

Lastly, there have been a lot of sending offs. Dusseldorf, Hoffenheim and Leipzig all lost a player during the game, and all to straight reds. I've received two myself, both second bookings for petty fouls. This seems quite excessive to me and maybe needs looking at.

Edited by BanOly

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Winter 2019
What an incredible end to the year! Our defence really started to shine through and take centre stage, especially one player in particular, and we ended up taking a massive 19 points from 8 games, only dropping five! We also secured qualification to the knockout round of the Champions League, but more on that shortly.

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Following our Burnley-esque start to the campaign, my main focus was finding a way to win games away from home. We continued to dominate at the BayArena, where our free-flowing attack was simply unstoppable! But away from home was still a struggle, until the Bayern match.

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Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm no tactical mastermind. When it comes to finding a tactic that works, I tend to go with the cookery-level "trial and error" approach. I know how I want my tactic to play, so I make it and hope for the best. This save has been kind to me and it appears my tactic is working wonders, but this is hardly surprising given how strong Gegenpress seems to be, not just in the real world but on FM especially.

However, I had no idea what made a good away tactic, or how I wanted my tactic to play away from home. I figured it was well suited to counter-attacking, so the first stage of the experiment was as simple as... changing from "all-out attack" to "cautious." Safe to say, if the result against Bayern wasn't too bad then the win at FC Koln was largely satisfying indeed. We were let off the hook at Mainz due to the sheer amount of injuries they sustained, but all in all we have a fantastic league position to build on in the new year. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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You'd think nothing could put a downer on us heading into the winter break but you'd be wrong. We put in two fantastic shifts in front of the home fans to all but solidify our place in the next round, Tottenham requiring a miracle scoreline to avoid the Europa League. We even put in an inspiring away performance at White Hart Lane! But ultimately Atalanta beat us to pole position, and we had no idea how much it would hurt.

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Our Champions League hopes are all but over, as we drew the current reigning champions of Europe, trailing Manchester City by only one point over in the Premier League, only missing Clyne and Origi through injury. We'd require one hell of a win at the BayArena to make it past Liverpool.
 

Tactical Approach

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The main tactic continues to be a success, so I continue to rely on it. There have been some more tweaks, but aside from switching to "Cautious" for away games and sometimes moving the defensive line back a little, this remains the primary tactic.
 

Player Performances
The standout of the year has definitely been Kerem Demirbay. Whether it's setting up goals or scoring them himself, he always seems to at least be involved and has a large say in the defensive game to boot. We truly miss him when he sits out to regain fitness, and could do with more players like him. If we're going to have one in the future though, it's looking like it might be fellow signing Daley Sinkgraven who has surprised me, since I expected him to be a versatile backup option this season! Instead, he's pushed Wendell out of the starting eleven and even put in some good shifts as a box-to-box midfielder and playmaker in the middle of the park as well. Finally, Karim Bellarabi returned from injury to provide a reliable winger option once again - an important role in our style of play.

Unfortunately, Leon Bailey continues to struggle to adapt to the left wing. I'm partially blaming Football Manager for his incompetency to perform there, as it's not at all realistic, and his job solely involves running at the defence with the option of shooting or passing. It seems to be the latter that's letting him down though, and it may well be that he needs to work on his finishing or perhaps wait for a confidence boost. Fringe players Paulinho, Moussa Diaby and Lucas Alario have all been poor when given opportunities but I'm hopeful that the latter two will move on now and change that. The former has given me no reason to think so.
 

Upcoming Fixtures
It's my favourite time of year - the winter break - and with it comes our very first active transfer window. Our only plans for now are to loan out or sell Nicklas Lomb and Joel Pohjanpalo, but anything could change in the heat of the moment.

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When we return from the festivities, we're lucky enough to begin with pretty straightforward fixtures as we look to retain top spot, but as we move into February the real challenge will begin and tough clashes with Hoffenheim, Dortmund and Leipzig could push us back. We also have our first leg against Liverpool and the next stage of the German cup against Hamburger SV, in what definitely looks like an exciting start to the year 2020!

 

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March 2020
As I expected, we're finding it difficult to keep up our impressive form as the season continues. The intensity of our philosophy is starting to take its toll, and I can see us having to fight hard to stay at the top of the table. We've started suffering multiple long-term injuries, including to first-choice goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, and Bayern have crept up to within just one point of the top spot.

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We took the opportunity during the Winter Window to add to our youth ranks, and prioritised deals that were guaranteed to make a profit in the future. One especially promising signing was Erkan Eyibil from FSV Mainz 05, who set us back just €45,000 in compensation! He could end up being one of the best players at the club, at a similar level to Kerem Demirbay, which is crazy when you consider how little we paid for him. He was immediately loaned out to Heidenheim until the end of the season in order to aid his development.

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I also took the opportunity to bring in a personal favourite of my own, young Bayern Munich goalkeeper Christian Früchtl. He's already 20 and certainly nowhere near matching the expectation once put on him to be the next Manuel Neuer, but still more than capable of matching the ability of Hradecky and other first-choice goalkeepers in the league, and at a minimal price of just €185,000 he's another one that's guaranteed to make a tidy profit in the future. He came to the club alongside fellow young Bavarian Ryan Johansson who again cost just €40,500 and has the potential to be as good as club captain Lars Bender.

Finally, we needed a right-footed attacking player who could operate either in the middle or out on the left, not just to rotate with Havertz but also to eventually replace him when he's inevitably stolen away. There were a few targets to choose from but ultimately we only had €5m and the transfer window was coming to a close, so it was on transfer deadline day that we eventually brought in Thiago Almada for €3.4m rising to €5.25m with add-ons.

bYiLbvf.png

As far as the results went, there was nothing particularly unexpected. We had a good month back, before travelling to Hoffenheim and dropping our first points, but we put in a good show so no love lost there. After staying in the cup, we demolished Borussia Dortmund thanks to a brace from Kerem Demirbay and a goal from Lucas Alario, who kicked on and found a whole new level in 2020. As expected, we didn't stand much of a chance against Liverpool in the Champions League and have now left ourself with an impossible task at Anfield.

LnFSrB2.png

Thankfully the team retaliated to the loss with an astounding display against Augsburg, thanks once again to Lucas Alario who bagged two goals. Weiser also managed to get on the scoreboard with a world-class volley from over 30 yards out that sailed into the top corner, and big signing Almada made his first start for the club. Sadly the performance couldn't be replicated against Leipzig and we once again dropped points, allowing Bayern to catch up to us.

zkDpsqn.png
 

Player Performances
As previously mentioned, Lucas Alario has finally opened up and found form, largely due to me giving up on retraining him as a Pressing Forward and letting him play in a more free role as a Poacher. Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri continue to be impressive, especially when played together, as the Hoffenheim due work very well alongside each other as you'd expect. Moussa Diaby has done a good job of replacing the injured and otherwise disappointing Leon Bailey, who despite being played on both sides of the pitch in several different roles with several different responsibilities, has been terrible time and time again, failing to get himself involved in attacking moves and even ending several of them by failing to stay onside. He has been by far the biggest challenge of my campaign so far and I'm desperate to fix it.

Christian Früchtl was disappointing in the DFB-Pokal but it's still early days yet and I remain hopeful that he'll start to perform once we've built up match fitness. The only other players struggling are Paulinho and Julian Baumgartlinger, who haven't been played often but are giving me no reason to keep them in the side ahead of the likes of Aranguiz, Demirbay and Diaby.
 

Upcoming Fixtures
As we approach the end of the season, we have to accept defeat in the Champions League and move our focus over to the Bundesliga. We have a real chance to win our first ever domestic title and still have a chance at the DFB-Pokal as well. Unfortunately Hradecky won't be back with us until mid-April, so we're going to have to rely on Özcan and Früchtl until then.

O2HfBis.png

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Hiya,

Currently playing as Chelsea and just signed Kai Harvertz. What’s his best position to get the best out of him please? Just started the 3rd season. 
 

Thanks. 

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3 hours ago, bucket said:

Hiya,

Currently playing as Chelsea and just signed Kai Harvertz. What’s his best position to get the best out of him please? Just started the 3rd season. 
 

Thanks. 

I'll probably buy him for Utd when I get my save started over the next few weeks as it looks like he's even better on FM20 than he was last year :eek: I could see him performing well in various roles tbh as he doesn't have many weaknesses outwith defensively. 

Edited by Gee_Simpson

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6 hours ago, Gee_Simpson said:

I'll probably buy him for Utd when I get my save started over the next few weeks as it looks like he's even better on FM20 than he was last year :eek: I could see him performing well in various roles tbh as he doesn't have many weaknesses outwith defensively. 

It’s the first time I’ve ever bought him. Got him for £65m as he was transfer listed. I’ve just started 3rd season, so hopefully he’ll be with me for a few good years! 

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7 hours ago, Gee_Simpson said:

I could see him performing well in various roles tbh as he doesn't have many weaknesses outwith defensively. 

@bucket  Pretty much this. His most natural role is as an Advanced Playmaker on Support in CAM, but he can also play in CM and should be able to play on Attack as well. He should make a good Attacking Midfielder, in my save he was good but not as good as when used as a Playmaker. His attributes could also make for a decent Wide Playmaker or Advanced Playmaker on the right wing (given he's left-footed) but I think his stamina is a little short of that required to be an effective Box-to-box Midfielder or Mezzala, and his attacking capabilities would be a little wasted in these roles anyway.

I would also recommend training him to Move Into Channels, as this will help open up more passing and shooting opportunities for him during the build-up, and suits his high pace and off-the-ball awareness.

Hope that helps!

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Spring 2020
After all the smoke and dust settled, we were left to fight for the Bundesliga, and for the DFB-Pokal.

M20P8KB.png

A win away from home to Frankfurt secured our spot in the semi-final, and provided us with important information for the repeat fixture at the BayArena. Leon Bailey registered his first ever hat-trick for the club, with three truly memorable goals, but was unable to continue the performance at Anfield. Our Champions League hopes were already pretty much over and we weren't up for a fight.

A quality away performance at Werder Bremen would also serve to help us in the future, as we drew them and eventually defeated them in the semi-final of the German Cup. Our inconsistency continued to show however, as we lost to relegation-threatened Borussia Monchengladbach before going 7-0 against Wolfsburg and Freiburg, largely thanks to quality performances from Volland and Almada, and this left us three points above Bayern Munich with just five games to go.

We came out the gates well, earning a penalty against Bayern Munich that was put away well. We then went 2 up just before the break, but the goal was disallowed and before we knew it, Bayern had instead equalised. Quite the half-time teamtalk! In the second half we stepped up our game but it appeared so did Bayern and, eventually, Lewandowski led them to a comfortable win. The team were demoralised and showed it against Schalke, Koln and Hertha Berlin, the latter of which leaving us five points shy of Bayern with just one game to go. The title was lost, and eventually, so too was the cup.

BaRXzF4.png

Player Performances
In the end, it was the whole team that collectively let us down. Nobody stood out towards the end of the season as being exceptionally poor, but the duration of the season was especially disappointing for WendellJulian BaumgartlingerNadiem Amiri and Moussa Diaby. Wendell and Julian shared 21 yellow and 3 red cards between them for the season, usually getting sent off when needed the most. Nadiem and Moussa are still young and both have been subject to a lot of rotation in several different positions, so I will be trying my best to be more consistent with them both next year.

Our best player, Fans' Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season was Daley Sinkgraven! A surprising one, since for me he was the least impressive signing made last summer but nonetheless he has taken the initiative to step up in the absence of a strong, reliable left-back and impressed me greatly, a feat I'd be happy for him to achieve in real life. Kerem Demirbay also had a fantastic debut season, and my first main signing Thiago Almada was also exceptional although that's hardly a surprise considering how popular a choice he is with other managers.

The most impressive player is yet to start for the senior squad. Christopher Scott is a 17 year-old German attacking midfielder and striker that has been with die Werkself since 2009, and his progress with the youth team recently has earnt him a call-up to the newly-formed 2nd Team. In his last 18 appearances for the Under-19s, Scott was played as both a False Nine and occasionally an Advanced Playmaker, resulting in an astonishing 30 goals and 2 assists! Backup goalkeeper Christian Früchtl has also developed well since signing for the club and has replaced Rambo Ozcan as backup goalkeeper, since the 38 year-old has announced his retirement at the end of the season.

tafx6DK.png
 

Looking Ahead
As the popular saying goes, "we move." Plenty to look forward to next year as all the same opportunities are up for grabs with the added inclusion of the German DFB-Supercup! Hopefully we can finally add some silverware to the empty trophy cabinet.

Transfer plans are scarce but I'm not looking to make too many changes, since the squad did well. We managed to get Kai Havertz to sign a new contract, which sees him become our highest earner on a wage of €140k per week for the next 5 years. This included a Minimum Fee Release Clause of €120m.

Other players to sign new contracts were;
Kevin Volland: €120k per week, 4 years
Panagiotis Retsos: €46,000 per week, 5 years
Christopher Scott: €10,500 per week, 5 years

Edited by BanOly

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Posted (edited)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen - 2019/20 - Part 1

After a couple of test game, I'm finally underway with my annual Leverkusen game. Just love to manage this team, on every single version of FM. Since in Germany and since being a Liverpool and Klopp fan IRL, i will of course play with a gegenpress style of football. Wich i think suits this years Leverkusen side brilliant. Will build the team around the three key players in my opinion, Jonathan Tah, Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey. The main issue would be to keep this players, because bigger fish will come after them!

Transfers:

17670458_Skjermbilde2020-01-07kl_18_04_39.thumb.png.cff641926082c74c27225c1e88d306b8.png

Pre Season:

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So just manage to get to the Winter Break, really happy with the season so far. In the Bundesliga its very close race between Bayern Munich, us and Schalke 04, with all of us taking a holiday with 37 points. The highlight so far must be the 3-2 win in Munich, with Kevin Volland scoring a hattrick. And speaking about Volland, what a season so far! 22 goals in 24 matches, with 19 of them in the league. 

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In the Champions League we were a little bit lucky with our group. Not a easy one, but one i felt we were favourites to get the 2nd place. Get drawn against Juventus, Shakhtar and Lille. An after a 3-1 loss in the first match in Turin, we were magnificent. Even beating Juventus 2-1 at home. 

1358518921_Skjermbilde2020-01-08kl_12_11_09.thumb.png.c9db7778fc012a5701281eb93440def1.png

 

Edited by matsnor21

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Posted (edited)

@matsnor21 Nice update! How are you set up to get that goals return from Volland? That's impressive. 

Edited by Gee_Simpson

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1 hour ago, Gee_Simpson said:

@matsnor21 Nice update! How are you set up to get that goals return from Volland? That's impressive. 

He is just playing like a Pressing Forward - Attack, with two IF-A on each side. Mid feb, and his total is 28 goals! I should point out that he is my regular penalty taker, and six of the goals is from the spot. 

As i mentioned before, i had like 2-3 test seasons, and he always ends up with 20-25 goals in total. But i think he is overachieving a little at the moment, with some easy tap ins and being very confident at one-to-ones. 

1422134927_Skjermbilde2020-01-08kl_20_42_25.thumb.png.3bda87b43ab725d50dc615c0bb32a779.png

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1 hour ago, matsnor21 said:

He is just playing like a Pressing Forward - Attack, with two IF-A on each side. Mid feb, and his total is 28 goals! I should point out that he is my regular penalty taker, and six of the goals is from the spot. 

As i mentioned before, i had like 2-3 test seasons, and he always ends up with 20-25 goals in total. But i think he is overachieving a little at the moment, with some easy tap ins and being very confident at one-to-ones. 

1422134927_Skjermbilde2020-01-08kl_20_42_25.thumb.png.3bda87b43ab725d50dc615c0bb32a779.png

That's great, especially with his average finishing attributes and the ME one on one issues. My next Bundesliga save will definitely be with Leverkusen. I was going to go them on 19 but 20 was coming out so I didn't bother. First though I will be going Man Utd, but will probably go Leverkusen after. 

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Bayer 04 Leverkusen - 2019/20 - Part 2

As my earlier post said, we had a really good first half of the season, sitting in 3rd, but with equal points as Bayern Munich and Schalke 04. Through to the knockout stages in the Champions League and still in the German Cup. Used the winter break to play two friendlies against Lechia Gdansk (5-0) and Feyenoord (1-2), and getting ready to some exiting months. Karim Bellarabi left for Norwich City for £12.75,  didn't really fit in to my system with Inside Forwards. Also finalised a pre contract with Sergio Reguillon, who will join us for free in the summer. And at last, a big signing from Brazil for £21.5m. 

1789191376_Skjermbilde2020-01-08kl_19_45_08.thumb.png.cabb8e30f7acdd9a2f3786aea8ab78ee.png

Bundesliga

After the winter break we started as a three man horse race, but Schalke 04 began to drop out early. There was a real fight between Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, to the end. We changed several time on being on the top. In April we got the advantage , when we beat them 3-0 at Bay Arena. We moved 3 points ahead, and never looked back. Finishing with 4 wins after that and clinching the Bundesliga with 80 points , six points ahead of Bayern Munich. 

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Champions League (Lost against Paris SG in the First knock Out Round, 6-5 on aggregate)

German Cup ( Lost against RB Leipzig in the Quarter Final, 4-3)

In the end i just wanna show my two stand up players, Kevin Volland and Leon Bailey. Both of them having a fantastic season. Going to be difficult to keep hold of them. Convinced Bailey to stay, if i won the league, lucky for me i did. 

1972749238_Skjermbilde2020-01-09kl_20_37_00.thumb.png.3532f47c670f011e6faf3ab0696a32ba.png

 

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As for transfers, i feel i have may a lot of them. So would not be doing so many in the Pre Season. On my shortlist i have a striker, defensive midfielder and maybe a centre back. An of course, my main target is to keep my star players. 

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@matsnor21 Brilliant! How does your tactic look? That's amazing to get those stats from Volland and Bailey imo, good job. 

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@matsnor21  Nice results, looking like a very successful save! I know you've almost certainly had more success due to bringing in better players, unfortunately being a big fan of the club I find it hard to replace real-life club players :D as Gee said, I'd love to see your tactical setup since I also experimented with mine quite a bit. Great work! Nice to see you getting the best out of Bailey and Volland too, since they were both mediocre for me. Looking forward to hearing how you get on in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League next season!

I should have an update soon, in all honesty I've been very busy over Christmas with family and friends so I haven't even finished the window of Summer 2020 yet!

 

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On 10/01/2020 at 22:59, BanOly said:

@matsnor21  Nice results, looking like a very successful save! I know you've almost certainly had more success due to bringing in better players, unfortunately being a big fan of the club I find it hard to replace real-life club players :D as Gee said, I'd love to see your tactical setup since I also experimented with mine quite a bit. Great work! Nice to see you getting the best out of Bailey and Volland too, since they were both mediocre for me. Looking forward to hearing how you get on in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League next season!

I should have an update soon, in all honesty I've been very busy over Christmas with family and friends so I haven't even finished the window of Summer 2020 yet!

 

Its really just a standard gegenpress setup 4-3-3. The only changes i made were ro change the DLP - D to DM-D. And Carrilero to - AP-s to get the most out of Havertz. Unfortunate I'm struggling a little bit more this season, even after some nice transfers. Will update after the season. 

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Bayer 04 Leverkusen - 2020/21 - Part 1

So after a very successful first season, winning the Bundesliga for the very first time, we did go in in the summer with a good feeling. My main target was to strengthen the squad with three players, with smart business, as the boar only gave me £28m. But of course, we did more business than the original plan. 

Transfers

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Really happy with the squad. As you can see i tried to signed a lot of players based in Germany, to please the board. Sergio Gomez wasnt really on my plan, but when he was transfer listed by Dortmund, almost for free, i just had too!

1317927573_Skjermbilde2020-01-13kl_11_26_22.thumb.png.a6f4fbb308fdd28d0ed7830c2370a07f.png 

Perfect start to the season, with a superb win against Dortmund in the Super Cup. Then i really expected big things for the rest of a season! And that feeling were growing after the beating Freiburg 3-0 at home, before smashing Dortmund 5-1 away! But then we just got an awful period with a loss to Leipzig and two draws against Augsburg and Werder Bremen. An suddenly we were 5 points behind Bayern Munich. But we were playing good football, so i didn't panic that much! And luckily enough the bad period didn't last to long. 

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In the Champions League, we got a tough group with Real Madrid, Benfica and Celtic. I expected Real Madrid to get the 1st place, while we and Benfica had to fight for the last spot. How wrong was i!

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Needed a victory in the last game against Benfica, away, to win the group. Of course they scored 2-2 in the 89 minute. So will be facing Juventus in the first knockout round. 

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Typically, when im doing great with Leverkusen , my computer says goodbye. But will start over with this great team. 

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On 14/01/2020 at 12:04, matsnor21 said:

Typically, when im doing great with Leverkusen , my computer says goodbye. But will start over with this great team. 

That sucks! I was enjoying reading your progress.

My save file went corrupt as my computer decided to restart itself while saving my game! But I'll more than likely start another save, since there's quite a few things I'm looking forward to doing differently this time round.

I'm going to sign Exe Palacios in January, as well as Roger Schmidt's personal Fitness Coach, Oliver Bartlett, since he will help my players keep up a heavy press throughout the season and stay injury-free, but more importantly is English so I'll have someone to talk to :D

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On 15/01/2020 at 21:56, BanOly said:

That sucks! I was enjoying reading your progress.

My save file went corrupt as my computer decided to restart itself while saving my game! But I'll more than likely start another save, since there's quite a few things I'm looking forward to doing differently this time round.

I'm going to sign Exe Palacios in January, as well as Roger Schmidt's personal Fitness Coach, Oliver Bartlett, since he will help my players keep up a heavy press throughout the season and stay injury-free, but more importantly is English so I'll have someone to talk to :D

Agree with you! The easiest thing, would be just to start a new save with another team. But Leverkusen is just too fun to play with. I was thinking about starting with my favourite team, Liverpool. But have delayed that to the march patch. 

Remember Oliver Bartlett, he was so good in Leverkusen a few years back. Remember the edition with him, and Krösche as assistant manager!

Starting over as well. I know you don't like it, but will use the first transfer window to overhaul the squad. So most of the ageing players will leave, except Sven Bender, who i will keep for one season. 

Palacios will definitely come in. And would probably go with the players i bought in on my last game. Racioppi, Berge, Sergio Gomez and Brewster (Permanent this time)

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11 hours ago, matsnor21 said:

How are you getting on @BanOly ?

Haven't even been on FM since the crash. Not because it annoyed me, which it did, I've just been busy moving house and all my stuff is up in the air at the moment :D will be a while before further updates. Please do let us know how you get on though!

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Just started a Bayer game, with transfers turned off for the first window, but I've used a transfer update so I have Palacios.

Went for a 4-4-1-1, seems to suit the team very well.

Totally revamped the backroom staff, pretty much getting rid of everyone.

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Into the third season now.

 

First season, I finished second in the league with 59 points, knocked out of the CL at the first knock out round, and won the DFB-Pokal. At one point I was under pressure from the media, and was 2nd in the predicted sack race. My home form was poor, I actually won more games away from home. 2nd to 11th was seperated by only 10 points. Bayern won the league with only 68 points, in the next seaosn that would have only been good enough for 4th.

I brought in a couple of players in January, on loan, that really helped me get 2nd position. Mariano came in and greatly improved my goal scoring, Rugani came in and I think we went 8 games without conceding, and Hysaj joined with a mandatory transfer at the end of the loan. Charles Aránguiz left in February to a Chinese club for £35m, didn't want to sell him but he wanted the extra money they could pay him.

 

Before the second season I made big changes.

transfers.thumb.jpg.d77e2a6ba3cfd1064c7d4b7e629f3ba8.jpg

 

Ended up winning the league, supercup and somehow the Champions League. The only tough team I played before the final was PSG, but managed to beat them 3-1 at home after they had a man sent off. Beat Man City in the final 2-1, but it was largely a uneventful final.

The main reason I did so well was Moussa Dembélé, after only 6 months I had to give him a new contract to get rid of his £65m release clause!

demb.thumb.jpg.f5388ab5a785b47dace20976ff9e588e.jpg

 

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Do you still have Bailey and Havertz? If so how they doing and what role you using for them?

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Still have them both. Havertz hasn't done brilliantly, but it looks like I'm getting more of of him in the 3rd season. Bailey has done well.

 

Kai.thumb.jpg.a007621fec90b5468e7de674fd612de2.jpgBailey.thumb.jpg.098eaaa50a4163e22e2ade2f430cccfe.jpg

 

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23 hours ago, dan99 said:

Still have them both. Havertz hasn't done brilliantly, but it looks like I'm getting more of of him in the 3rd season. Bailey has done well.

How are you getting the most out of Bailey? My issue is I want to use him as a left Inside Forward but the game has him as a natural right-sided player, despite the fact inrl he's being played out on the left to help develop his weaker foot, and it's working really well.

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how easy is it to dominate with them? 

I hope Bayern and Dortmund makes it competitive 

Edited by CapaJr

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On 22/02/2020 at 13:43, CapaJr said:

how easy is it to dominate with them? 

I hope Bayern and Dortmund makes it competitive 

Bayern won the league first season, Dortmund in 10th. Second season Dortmund were second, 11 points behind me, with Bayern one point behind them. 3rd season after 21 games Bayern are 6th, 21 points behind, Dortmund are 9th, 28 points behind.

 

So it's quite easy to dominate so far.

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On 22/02/2020 at 13:03, dan99 said:

I use him as an inside forward support on the right hand side.

I'm assuming you meant Inverted Winger on support or have you switched to a 4231? 

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10 hours ago, Gee_Simpson said:

I'm assuming you meant Inverted Winger on support or have you switched to a 4231? 

Yeah I switched to a 4-2-3-1 after the second season. In that second season he played as you said.

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14 hours ago, dan99 said:

Yeah I switched to a 4-2-3-1 after the second season. In that second season he played as you said.

IW on support yeah?

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So much talent ! in real life my beloved Rangers FC drew them in the round of 16 in Europa. Scary thought in game ivr always known them to be just amazing good. The thought of Leon Bailey running at Tavernier worries me. 

may want to do a save after we play them 

 

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1 hour ago, Gross_Ballon said:

So much talent ! in real life my beloved Rangers FC drew them in the round of 16 in Europa. Scary thought in game ivr always known them to be just amazing good. The thought of Leon Bailey running at Tavernier worries me. 

may want to do a save after we play them 

 

You're lucky Hearts aren't in Europe ;)

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20 minutes ago, Gee_Simpson said:

You're lucky Hearts aren't in Europe ;)

You are lucky if you are in the SPL next season! lol

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Gross_Ballon said:

You are lucky if you are in the SPL next season! lol

True, but I think we'll survive even if we have to stay up through the playoffs, Championship teams are *****. 

Sorry for taking this off topic lol, I like Bayer Leverkusen and they will be my go to team after my Man Utd save! Hopefully they still have Havertz by the time FM21 comes out, unless I squeeze the save in after the Utd one obmn FM20 but I tend to be a long term save type person, I don't usually have multiple ones on the go. 

Edited by Gee_Simpson

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