Huber’s Hamburg – IV

Welcome back to Huber’s Hamburg, where following our expected promotion back to the Bundesliga, we take a look at how Huber manages in an all important transfer window. Remember the transfer rules; maximum of 6 signings per season, 5 suggestions from the scouting/recruitment team, 1 max Huber’s own finding. Plus minimum of 2 youth players to be promoted to the first team.

All Huber’s signings came early, his recruitment meetings with his chairman and recruitment team doing lots of the heavy work towards the end of the season and early summer, with all 6 signings completed by the 3rd July. This gave Huber the early chance to embed these new players into the squad ahead of the new season.

The key areas in where Huber wanted to improve were:

  • Goalkeeper – solid handling skills and who can start attacks
  • Defenders – more specifically 1 -2 central defenders
  • An aggressive hard working midfielder
  • A winger who has decent technical ability
  • A striker who can give competition to Wintzheimer

First up is Spanish international Goalkeeper Pau Lopez who signs from Roma after being transfer listed for an incredible 2m. Overall he is a much better keeper than Ulreich, with age on his side, he will add experience and quality between the sticks. He is on a pretty high wage but with experience comes a price and Huber had no problem bringing this guy in following recruitment recommendation.

Hamburg’s recruitment team were busy in the summer and looked at relegated Freiburg for defensive players to bring to the table. Huber had final say over which ones to go for but ultimately brought in 2 central defenders with experience, mental and physical skills to the side for a combination of 3.9m. Phillip Lienhart for 1.5m and Dominique Heintz for 2.4m respectively. Both players having fantastic attributes and solidity to the team, giving Huber food for thought and options for his defensive line up.

In terms of transfer fees paid, that’s it for Huber, not too shabby. However, we’ve got 3 more players to discuss which all arrived in Hamburg on a free transfer.

First up is hardworking midfielder, who can also play in the AMC strata, again from Freiburg; Janik Haberer. Now technically he is pretty poor, but in terms of aggressiveness, bravery, working hard for the team and not giving up, this guy is the man. I don’t expect him to get many goals for us but in terms of hassling the opposition and just being an engine, then he will be very useful.

Next up is versatile winger Sebastian Maier, who arrives from Bochum on a free. This guy to be honest is pretty average, but in comparison to my current wide men he is high above them in technical ability. He will cause problems cutting in from either wing, as well from set pieces.

Last but not least is Janni Serra who arrives again on a free from Holstein Kiel. Once again, technique wise he isn’t fantastic but a bit like Haberer, he will put everything in for his team, working right to the end. I don’t envision he will start much as Wintzheimer is much more of a goal threat and an allrounder. However, Serra does have an aerial threat with his height, jumping ability and heading skills, therefore when we have our back’s against the wall and in need of a goal, a target man could be an option.

In terms of the youth prospects, we have Aaron Opoku and Tobias Knost who will join the squad. Opoku has some good flair as well as being fairly decent physically and technically, therefore cutting in from the left hand side he could cause some problems, not a regular starter but definitely featuring. Knost on the other hand I can’t see being involved much, he was mainly called up because of his versatility at being able to play across the backline, however, he is pretty poor with no standout areas, so specific training and mentoring will be in place to encourage his personality and see if he can develop. Two highly influential squad members who play in defence have perfectionist and driven personalities so Knost will be in a mentoring group with those two to help his development.

In terms of departures, a bit of deadwood and over priced players have left bringing in a total of 8.5m, so a net profit of 1.5m, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t much but we shall see what the future holds. Players such as Hinterseer and Wood are off the wage bill plus Gyamerah, Leistner and Kinsombi leaving for decent prices.

The eagle eyes will notice a 7th signing in this list. However, I actually signed him in January last season with the intention of playing in my U19 squad as he was only 17. The problem I had was negotiations went beyond the transfer window so it was confirmed to arrive in the summer and me being Mr observant completely forgot that he was coming and thought he was already with me, so I’m not counting that one. It won’t happen again and I ensure I will be more aware when it comes to the transfer market next time.

On that note, let’s leave it there and join us soon for the outcome to our return to the big leagues. Can we stay up, or will we make a swift return back to the 2.Bundesliga?

Huber’s Hamburger SV – III

So we start the season with Huber’s Hamburg and the first aim is to restore the club back to the Bundesliga.

In the latest post we took a look at Huber’s style of play and in particular his ideal set up as a high pressing attacking 4231.

As we analyse performances we can see that results in Huber’s opening games went in his favour. With 9 wins from his opening 13 games including a massive 4-0 romp over our Hamburg rivals St Pauli.

However, Just before the turn of the year, HSV crash out of the Pokal against Hertha Berlin, then followed a poor turn of form in January. Three 0-0 draws and not much created, with a 1-0 win sandwiched between them, with a performance not deserving of a victory. This gave Huber the incentive to analyse how his system had been performing and what areas of the tactical system could be improved. It also saw the sale of club captain Leibold, after he came once again to Huber demanding to leave. Stuttgart was the team who snapped him up in a 7.3m deal.

It’s interesting isn’t it, when things go well, you take it in your stride. It’s only really when things go wrong or not working as well do we start to change things. Perhaps this has been a weakness of Huber. Victories painting over the cracks when actually what Huber was envisioning wasn’t being fulfilled effectively on the pitch, but instead the results giving him the facade that the team was playing how he wanted.

After analysis, Huber saw that his pressing forward was so much higher up the pitch compared with the rest of his side, creating a huge gap between the attack and midfield. Equally, the midfield weren’t able to get up a join the attacks as much as he wanted, including his number 10 who was nowhere to be seen. You can se below in an average position analysis in a game where we won 4-0, the number 10 almost sitting on top of the BBM, and way off the attacking line.

Following this, Huber decided to take a walk to clear his thoughts, something he often used to do when pondering thoughts and for inspiration. He often ended up back at his old stomping ground, the grotty subway where he spent many of nights during his homeless spell. Huber came across his old pal, Percy the pigeon, whom he never thought he would see again. Passers by where baffled staring at this strange man clearly in deep conversation with a grubby little pigeon. However, this is Huber’s downtime and where he manages to clear his mind from the problems and stresses; and this is what came of it.

Starting at the top, a change to a DLF (a), aiming for the front man to be able to drop deep allowing the wide men and midfielders to run on creating problems for the opposition when tracking the runners. The number 10 role has been kept the same as an AP (s); controversially, although Huber wasn’t happy with him sitting on the BBM, he still wants a key man here looking for those killer balls for those runners to get onto. The BBM was instead changed to a Mez (a), looking to play between the lines and half spaces and make those aggressive runs into the box. Therefore, the BWM (d) was changed, although this is an aggressive presser of the ball, something key in a Huber system, with his CM partner being more focused on getting into the box, a more defensive sitter was favoured to provide stability. A change of form, fortune and results became more positive and performances where more pleasing for Huber.

Look at how much higher and closer both IF’s, the AP and the Mez are to the DLF, no one sitting ontop of each other, runners getting in behind defenders, more chances created and no more drawing blanks against anyone, even those stubborn teams that sit back and park the bus.

Huber’s results throughout the remainder of the season were much more clinical, avoiding defeat and clinching his first championship title in his debut season in management.

Our overall performances changed dramatically after Huber’s tactical tweak, this is going to be something that Huber will have to monitor throughout his career so tactical systems do not become stale, ineffective and so it can always evolve as team dynamics and strengths change. Huber’s analytical statistics show that Xg wise, HSV scored more than expected, but conceded slightly more than expected. Now this doesn’t show us too much, as we could have fluffed high rated chances and scored many chances where we really shouldn’t have scored, but regardless of this, to be higher than expected is always better than lower. However, HSV’s tackles won, passing completion and shots on target ratio where all the highest in the league, in fact all of their statistics were.

So, hats off to Huber who, despite the pressure and expectations of winning the league, he done it in a style, which gained him status onto the clubs favourite personal board. He also claimed the accolade of most points in a 2.Bundesliga season, as well as most clean sheets and wins.

Huber’s next step is to maintain the clubs status as a Bundesliga side in their return to top flight football. Additions will be made to achieve this, but we need to remember the aims and objective set out at the beginning of the save:

Aims

  • Gain promotion back to the Bundesliga – Achieved 2020/21
  • Avoid relegation (first season in Bundesliga)
  • Get into Europe
  • Win the Pokal
  • Win the Bundesliga
  • Win a European Cup
  • End Bayern’s dominance and become the biggest club in Germany

Objectives

  • Play attacking/ high intensity football
  • Promote at minimum of 2 youth players into the first team each season
  • Sign an English player to be in the core/spine of the team
  • Sign a maximum of 6 players per season
  • 5 signings based will be based on recruitments recommendations, only 1 will be Huber’s choice

So one aim is complete, the next is survival which is achievable. Looking at the objectives, Huber has his eye on 2/3 youth players to be promoted to the first team, plus his recruitment team have been looking at some decent player to come into this young squad.

The only hic up that Huber now faces ahead of the new season is this.

The club culture has now changed, the board want defensive, counter attacking football, something which is a bit of a difference compared to Huber’s first season. However, the transition from attacking, high pressing football to a more defensive style, shouldn’t be too much of a change as we defend from the front and counter anyway; the only difference will be from a slightly deeper position.

Stay tuned for Huber’s transfer activity and how he plans to tackle Hamburg’s return to the big leagues.

Thanks for reading, feel free to join my slack channel for regular updates #hubers-hamburg

Huber’s Hamburger SV – II

Plenty of controversy surrounding the appointment of Roman Huber at Hamburg, with fans wondering if he is really the man to lead them back to the Bundesliga. With this being his first managerial position, Huber will need to need to hit the ground running if he is to win over the more sceptical fans.

So with Huber taking the reigns at Hamburg let’s take a look at what kind of a task this rookie manager has in store.

So with Hamburg failing in an automatic return to the Bundesliga last season, the club have shipped out most of their underperforming overpaid players and have opted for a younger feel to the dressing room. With the average age of the squad at 26.04 the most experienced players are club captain Leibold, Aaron Hunt, Terrode, and former Bayern back up keeper, Ulreich.

Aside from these, the rest of the Hamburg squad is very young, giving a fresh look on the squad. This is the exact reason why Huber was brought in. With the clubs ethos to sign U23’s for the first team and promotion from within, this could be a match made in heaven for both Huber and Hamburg.

The most stand out young players are Ambrosius, Van Drogelen, Onana and Wintzheimer.

The strengths highlighted in his squad are:

  • Many young talents such as Hein, Knost and Pinckert (we will monitor these players)
  • + creativity & vision
  • + composure
  • + natural fitness
  • + Aggression
  • + Balance
  • + Tackling
  • +Marking
  • + Pace

The areas in where we are weak:

  • Heading
  • GK aerial & commands
  • Corners
  • Free kicks
  • Determination
  • Squad depth

Therefore, Huber has the opportunity with the player he has to design a gegenpressing system, with the potential to build upon in the future.

In terms of how Huber will set up his side we still don’t have that information. However, previously we have seen his youth teams press aggressively, with a focus on defending from the front and shutting down space quickly.

After introducing himself to his new set of players, two, including club captain, have asked to leave in search of a bigger club. This left Huber with a big task early on in his tenure; allow them to leave and trust his recruitment team to find replacements, or force them to stay and impact the dressing room disruptions days after joining.

So incoming to the first pre season friendly for Huber and Hamburg, we get to see potentially how Huber will set things up.

We can see that after analysis of the squad, Huber is setting up with a 4231 shape without a focus on pressing, high up the pitch, creating overlaps out wide for fullbacks to cause a threat, with the purpose of getting the ball forward as quickly as possible.

The result of this tactical style gave Hamburg confidence throughout preseason, with HSV winning 2 out of 4 games, losing to Chelsea and Lecce.

However quick wingers Bakery Jatta and Xavier Amaechi both wanted out of the club so bids of €2.6m and €4.4m were accepted respectively. Within a few days, both players left for Schalke and Leeds. Now for Huber, he had two options, trust the current squad, or desperately use his scouting and recruitment team to replace them.

A recruitment meeting was set up with three areas of the squad on the agenda; LW & RW (both IF) & AP for the AM strata.

The results were hit and miss, Huber wanted quick, energetic players who had the determination and desire to drive after the ball and win it back quickly, with that winning mentality. Leaving this to the recruitment team showed to be difficult in finding. From these results, Huber opted for: 17 year old Florian Wirtz who arrived on loan, Milos Pantovic who signed for €195k from Bochum and Cristian Clements who signed for €575k from 1.FC Köln.

With the media setting odds on Hamburg finishing 2nd, added with the expectations of the club and the fans, Huber has a lot of pressure on him to restore this sleeping giant back to the Bundesliga.

Join next time to see what happens in Huber’s start to his first competitive game and the 2.Bundesliga season.

Huber’s Hamburger SV – I

Welcome to this introductory post for my first written blog save in a little while. This post will introduce both the manager, the club and the aims/objectives for this save. So lets introduce the main character in this story.

Roman Huber, a former youth player of FSV Mainz 05 has been given the opportunity to lead former giants of Germany and European football, Hamburger SV. So who is the mysterious Roman Huber.

Huber, 32, born just outside of Mainz, was forced to retire at an early ages due to reoccurring serious knee injuries before the ages of 18. Huber felt lost and empty when everything he had ever known had been taken away from him. He and his older brother lost their parents at a young ages and were living with their grandfather just outside of Mainz. Sadly around the time of Huber’s first injury, his grandfather passed away. Huber found himself down a rabbit hole of endless drinking and busking for money in the local city centre following his release. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a rotten old banjo; he even lost his grandfather’s home whilst his brother was away at university.

A few years later, former U17 Mainz coach spotted Huber under a subway with one shoe and a pet pigeon and decided he couldn’t just leave him there. He spoke with his club and Mainz decided to to help the lost, drunken fool. Mainz were supportive of Huber and funded for his coaching badges, gave him a roof over his head and even a role in washing the youth team kits. Eventually Huber managed to straighten himself out and went onto assisting the U17 coaching team.

Seven years later and Huber has caught the attention of HSV’s Sporting Director Michael Mutzel who believes Huber should have a chance at stepping up to his first head coach role.

Hamburger SV have a proud history of being one of Germany’s most successful clubs both domestically and on the European stage. With 3 Bundesliga titles, and 3 DFB Pokal, they also have a European Cup Winners Cup and even a Champions League trophy, which they won against a mightily strong Juventus, with the likes of Paolo Rossi and Platini in their side.

They even held the accolade of being the only club to take part in every Bundesliga season since its formation. That was until 2019 where they were relegated from the top division ending their run.

Hamburg were tipped to come straight back up to the top flight but faulted in some mediocre performances, meaning they missed out on automatic promotion and the playoff spot. Resulting in another season in the 2.Bundesliga, Mutzel decided a change was in order and opted for the young and aspiring Roman Huber.

Huber’s ambition is to succeed, but to do it in style, so let’s take a look at his aims and objectives in this save.

Aims

  • Gain promotion back to the Bundesliga
  • Avoid relegation (first season in Bundesliga)
  • Get into Europe
  • Win the Pokal
  • Win the Bundesliga
  • Win a European Cup
  • End Bayern’s dominance and become the biggest club in Germany

Objectives

  • Play attacking/ high intensity football
  • Promote at minimum of 2 youth players into the first team each season
  • Sign an English player to be in the core/spine of the team
  • Sign a maximum of 6 players per season
  • 5 signings based will be based on recruitments recommendations, only 1 will be Huber’s choice

Now these aims & objectives may seem a little generic (yea mate, we all want to win don’t we), but actually I haven’t won a league or CL in FM since 2017, mainly because I haven’t played that much of the later additions but still.

Now over the last few years I’ve flitted in and out of the FM scene, mainly due to time but also for a lot of personal things that have been going on in my life. However, over the last few weeks this spark inside of me has returned and I cannot wait to get stuck into this game. A personal aim from me is to see Huber’s save out to the finish.

Thank you all for reading. The next post will look at our team, our tactical decisions and how we start the season.

#6 Die Roten Teufel

Hello and welcome back to the Die Roten Teufel series, where last episode we were clinging on for dear life in the Bundesliga.

My Post

Following our late turn of form, we have actually got ourselves in a decent position at the winter break. We sit in 14th with a 2 point gap above the relegation spot; not the biggest gap in the world but one that hopefully we can improve on in 17 games time.

I felt that we needed a little bit of extra quality to help us over that edge and cement our place in the division, but with no money available to spend and the club paying back two loans, we were in no position to do so.

For the first time in about 4 years of FM, I made a loan signing to help us out. I’ve always been against making loan signings, especially if they are young as you will be improving that player for someone else. The only way I find them beneficial is if they have an option to purchase afterwards. That’s just my opinion of them and something I’ve done for a long while now. However, in this situation I decided to get some Bundesliga experience on loan, with the option to buy afterwards. First of all I was looking at Sebastien Rode at Dortmund. He was transfer listed and had an asking price of £2.4m; he would have been brilliant in our midfield adding a bit of bite. The only problem was his wages, I could only afford 40% of them and BVB were being very tight and wanted a minimum of 50%. No matter how much I tried to negotiate, they would not budge.

So that’s when I looked at the transfer listed dynamic Gladbach winger Jonas Hofmann. His wages were considerably lower and I could afford the 50% they were asking for. The bonus with this deal was we had an agreed price of £2m to sign him at any time during the spell; something I was very keen on doing. With his value at £3.9m a signing like that could really boost us on the pitch and give us an option in potential resale in the future, providing we don’t go down of course.

So our opening fixture following the break was at home against 1.FC Koln who was sitting 2 places above us with only 3 points separating us. A tough as they beat us 2-0 earlier on in the campaign, back then though, we were newly promoted, we’ve got a bit extra experience of the league now and that hopefully will make a difference. That it did, we opted for a 4141 system this time after looking at their predicted game plan. 0-0 at half time and things were pretty even, I decided to be a little more adventurous. I moved my wide midfielders to the AM slots and they gave us that something extra going forward, but also kept us with the security of a DM at the back. On the hour, Kasteneer got on
the end of a Kessel cross to put us into the lead. With that we dropped our wingers back again and aimed to retain the ball, I was intent on seeing this out. Just like the true professionals we are, we did just that; 3 points and another clean sheet in the bag, what a way to re-start the season.

We followed that up with Gladbach and Wolfsburg, where, things didn’t go as well this time around. Both game where 2-0 defeats, although we did look more organised and disciplined in our defeats, not crumbling like earlier in the season.

Next up was Hannover and Freiburg, two sides who were down at the bottom with us and two sides that we needed to get points off to stand in any hope of survival. The game against Hannover was a joke, we looked broken following our recent defeats and Hanover looked like they wanted it more, by half time we were lucky to only be 1-0 down. I stuck a rocket up their arse during the break and completely lost the plot, things seemed to change early on but not as much as I wanted. 65 minutes gone and we had a few opportunities but nothing special, something had to change; Hannover was content on seeing this out. I pushed the wingers up again to the AM slots so we were now playing a
424 putting all our risks in getting something from this. Things started to improve and we were actually creating decent chances, but still to no avail. Just when we thought it was it had run away from us, we hit them on the break. The time being 94 minutes on the clock, I though the ref was going to call it, but it never came. We charged forward and it somehow landed to Kasteneer again in the box and he equalised with moments to spare. Bloody hell, we got away with that one, points shared, better than none in the grand scheme of it all.

So Freiburg next, we picked up our first win of the season against them in a 3-0 win in their own back yard, can we do the double over them (am I actually saying that). It started quiet with both sides having an equal amount of the ball and not really creating much. It called for a change in the second half; I took off Halfar who was playing in the AM slot today in a 4411 and brought on or Target Man, Big Seb. I switched our DLP to a CM(d) and encouraged our wingers to get the ball into the box towards our big man. We started to create more chances and could see that Big Seb was giving them issues. Then with 4 minutes left on the clock our opportunity came; Hofmann got to the byline and I was praying for the cross to be on the money. Unfortunately it wasn’t and didn’t beat the first man. The blocked cross though landed to Mwene who first time whipped a cross to the near post which land perfectly onto Big Seb’s head. He glanced at it and the ball went into the corner of the net; SCENES AT BETZE! We ran out 1-0 winners in a massive 6 pointer that could be crucial come the end of the season.

We take a lovely trip to the Allianz next, oh what a place to go to when you’re trying to build on a win and escape the drop. It was slightly different to our tie earlier in the season; remember, we actually gave them a game and got a point against them. It wasn’t different in a sense that they smashed us to smithereens, oh no. The only thing that was different was they were more clinical in front of goal that’s all. On the contrary though, so were we, just not as much as they were. After going 2-0 down, we fought back to level the scores up at 2-2, only to be punished by a freekick by Talisca with 10 minutes to go, this time we couldn’t recover though and it ended 3-2 to Bayern.

Next, we was back at the Fritz-Walter to take on Stuttgart who are a very decent organized side. I decided to try the Target Man approach again from the off this time, with Big Seb playing as the main man with Kasteneer along side him in the Advanced Forward role. Stuttgart never even turned up, an incredible 3-0 win in front of our home crowd. Kasteneer with a brace and Big Seb rounding things up at the end. What a massive 3 points.

Its a good job we managed that 3 points against Stuttgart as our form drastically changed. Just like earlier in the season, we went on a barren run of 4 consecutive defeats, losing to Dortmund, Hamburg, Leverkusen and to our rivals Frankfurt in a 4-3 stunner for the neutrals.

Just like earlier in the season though, we turned around our fortunes with a victory against RB Leipzig. Again we managed to beat them 2-1 with goals from Halfar and Przybylko (which sounds like a noise my cat makes when my little boy grabs his tail). Another massive win towards our bid for survival, with 5 games to go can we do it?

8568a2f97dd23842f6a9d19d94338920

Next up, the under performing Hoffenheim, victory for either side could be huge in the relegation scrap. Looking at it, you’d say Dusseldorf were down but it could be any one of the remaining 7 that could take the other automatic drop spot.

Before the game, we were given the news that our back up keeper has been injured in training and is out for the season. Not a great piece of news to take on the morning of a massive game.

Things did not start well as we were under the cosh straight away. Young starlet Nadiem Amiri gave the hosts the lead and they were pushing and pushing for more. Thankfully Adler was playing a blinder and gave us a glimmer of hope. I amied for a more attacking approach with the objective to clear the ball to the flanks to try and over power their 352 wing backs. We started to create but nothing seemed to click at all.

Playing with a 4141 I sacrificed one of the midfielders and brought on another striker. I also pushed up the wingers so we were in a 424 shape hoping to try and scrape something from this.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet at all but I feel sometimes if you gamble then FM quite often rewards you. This time round that’s exactly what happened. I’m not going to talk about it, instead just take a look a the below screenshot and imagine my reaction.

f786bb11e05a3f61ced0f707a1691869

However, the mood suddenly changed. There was a horrible grey cloud over Kaiserslautern, Adler picked up a pulled hamstring and will miss the remaining 4 games. That luck I mentioned earlier has just been sucked out of me as if you remember our back up keeper is also out for the season. Shit! We head into the final 4 games with a youth keeper, this can’t be good.

So we stepped into another 6 pointer against Dusseldorf, who quite frankly gave us an absolute hiding. We deserved nothing at all from that game, nothing at all, and the lack of quality in goal for us really showed. They spanked us 3-0 in front of our own fans, I was fuming, surely we can’t go down like this.

Our final three games were Bremen, Schalke and Hertha, points were a necessity but will be hard to come by. First up we managed a 2-2 draw with Bremen, followed up somehow with a 1-1 draw with Schalke. Freiburg lost their game so they were relegated; we survived the immediate drop but there is still a playoff spot that we could still get sucked into, so technically we aren’t safe yet.

1 point ahead of Hoffenheim, who occupy the playoff spot, and 2 points behind Gladbach, this was coming down to be a end of season classic. And for those who are in my slack channel #bowens-fmstories, that’s where I have left things, on a cliff hanger. No one knows the out come of the final day, so here it can all be revealed.

Dortmund clinched the title on the last day even though they lost to Koln. Bayern had the opportunity the pinch the title back but drew 0-0 with Hannover. Leipzig comfortably beat Gladbach so they were in danger. Hoffenheim were away to Frankfurt who themselves had already been declared safe, so they had nothing to play for. We also had Hertha who had already been confirmed safe; could this be our chance, please.

We found ourselves 1-0 up after 20 minutes and were looking solid. Can we do it, come on! I removed the option to show me live league table and current results so it would be a complete gamble. Nothing but a win to confirm our safety. We held on and on and on, until 77 minutes when Kalou levelled up the score. Shit, I tried my usual tricks to try and salvage the win but it was to no avail, it ended up all square. Would it be enough? We had to pray that Hoffenheim lost or even a draw would be enough. Please FM gods, can it happen?

Too bloody right it can, Frankfurt beat Hoffenheim in style 3-0!

WE DID IT! WE AVOIDED RELEGATION!!!!!!#BETZE

Bundesliga_ Overview Stages-2

1. FC Kaiserslautern_  Senior Fixtures-2.png

What an absolute rollercoaster! It’s been intense but thrilling at the same time. Bloody hell we need to improve now to try and not be in this point come next year.

To show you how crazy this season was though, lets look at the DFB Pokal final result.

DFB-Pokal_ Overview Stages

Yes, that’s right, in true FM style, relegated Hoffenheim won the Pokal, meaning they’ll play in Europe next season and playing in the 2.Bundesliga at the same time, amazing stuff.

After that emotional rollercoaster ride, I need a stiff drink and a good lie-down.

Come join me next time where hopefully we can have a bit of money and improve the squad. Expectations will be the same, aim to avoid relegation. Lets hope we can.

Auf Wiedersehen

#5 Die Roten Teufel

Hello and welcome back to the Die Roten Teufel series, where last episode we clinched promotion on the last day of the season. Something that I’ve still not quite come to terms with yet.

My Post

Following our unexpected and possibly premature promotion, I have been handed the absolutely massive transfer budget of…

budgets

Wow, what a war chest! I can’t wait to spend it all at once. It was always going to be a tough ask in surviving in the Bundesliga anyway. Now with that massive budget I think I may as well give up now. I am in desperate need of a GK, LB, LM and two strikers as our veteran Altintop has retired. A minimum of 5 players on that budget…easy!

I didn’t want to waste money on any scouting packages so I scouted the market myself in a bid to try and get some kind of quality for my money. Things weren’t looking that promising, so I pitched up at the board room with the aim of increasing the transfer budget. Without putting up much of a fight the board honoured my request and trebled my budget to £3.2m, still not amazing I’d have to say but better than the former budget.

Believe it or not I have managed to bring 7 new faces to 1.FC Kaiserslautern all on permanent deals; spending the most of my budget.

3 of the signings will be first team members, whilst the other 4 will mainly be used as back up options but all have excellent personalities to tutor some of my youngsters. Let’s start with the 3 players who will feature the most in our attempt at survival.

Christian Schoissengeyer

Christian Schoissengeyr_ Overview Profile.png

First off, great name. Secondly, I actually had been watching him since January as his contract was expiring at Sturm Graz. In terms of fitting our blue print, he fits the bill perfectly; he is also a pretty decent defender. Slightly concerned about his Marking and a few of his mental attributes but at 24 he should hopefully be ok if I use him correctly; hopefully he shall improve too with game time.

Rene Adler

René Adler_ Overview Profile.png

Mainz actually got relegated; unsurprisingly as they are flirting with the drop zone in real life too. Adler wasn’t interested in dropping down a level and at 33 has plenty of Bundesliga and international experience. I thought that £700k for Rene was a bargain but not only could he be crucial in keeping out some goals, but his Professional personality will be superb in tutoring some youngsters. I have 2 young keepers who both have at least 4 stars potential that need a good tutor. He could be doing us a massive job both for the future and the present.

Ailton

Aílton_ Overview Profile

Now onto my most expensive signing and probably the best signing I made in this window, costing us a massive £2.3m. As mentioned above, I needed a new LB and preferably one who has the ability to get forward and influence the game offensively as well as being solid at the back. In this young man I think I’ve found that person. The only things that let him down are his positioning and marking, which are both something that can be worked on in training. Other than that I am happy with him and also feel if he does well we could get some resale value on him. If we go down, which is probably likely, we should be able to at the very least get our money back for him.

The remaining 4 players I signed in this window were all on a free transfer and all on a combined weekly wage of £11.8k so they aren’t breaking the bank. All 4 players where brought in for the purpose of tutoring some younger players to boost their personalities and determination. A few may play a part in the season but I can’t see that much game time for them.

Sascha Reither

Remember Reither, he had a spell at Fulham when they were in the Premier League and wasn’t too bad. You can see that overall he still isn’t that bad. His physicals have declined, but at 35 that’s what I’d expect. His ability elsewhere though is still pretty good and with his determination and Professional personality he will be an excellent tutor. He is also a coach for my U23 squad so he is doing group training and 1-2- 1 tutoring, what a guy!

Marco Croce

Marco to be honest is ok, but he is all 11’s and 12’s so most likely won’t play a part in our campaign, unless we get some injury crisis or some sort. However, like Reither has excellent Determination and personality so tutoring will be his main role for us.

Jamie Mackie

Again, similar to Croce, I don’t envision Mackie playing all that much, but once again look at the personality and determination. I’ve got 2 young RW’s who are in desperate need of a determination and personality boost to give them a chance of reaching their potential. Hopefully Mackie can help them bring it out of them.

Alexander Meier

The veteran striker who just loves to score goals, he probably won’t play all that much but I do intend on giving him some game time. His Bundesliga experience plus that natural eye for the goal could be vital in our survival. He probably won’t start many but an impact sub if we are desperate for a goal. His determination isn’t fantastic but he has the personality and some traits that could be useful.

So after strengthening (I say that loosely) the squad, we start the Bundesliga season; our first since the 11-12 season. We are odds on favourites to be relegated and are 1000-1 to win it. Amusing really as I would have said the odds should be higher than that. However, there are a few who are priced at the same or round about the same as us, so I’ll be looking at those games as the most realistic ones that I can possibly get some points from. Anything else will be a bonus.

Our opening fixture was at home at the Betzenberg against Gladbach, a tough opener I’d have to say and that was shown in the score line. A 0-3 defeat and not too much created, perhaps we need to go into these games more cautiously from now on, or maybe just give it a go as we are going down anyway?

We followed that up with two away fixtures at Koln and Wolfsburg, where, as you guessed it, we lost both games. I went with the more adventurous option and we lost by 2 goals to nil against effzeh, where to be honest, we had more chances. Maybe this was the right approach? WRONG! We were dismantled by Wolfsburg 5-2 but on the bright side we did manage to actually score. Although, I will be opting for a cautious approach next time out, Hannover next so hopefully we can improve.

Hannover where one of the sides I highlighted earlier where I think we could possibly pick up some points, and that we did. Fullkrug missed a penalty on 20 minutes after Zeigler pushed Prib in the box, but that was short lived. Prib himself put Hannover ahead just 3 minutes later, we hadn’t started well and needed a change in mentality. Big Seb Andersson levelled the score just after the hour after Osawe’s cross was palmed away by the keeper right into Seb; we were looking good. Although, not good enough, it ended 1 a piece. Next up Frieburg; another side we are hopeful to get some points off.

I went with a Counter approach today as we were away from home and they have the ability going forward. 11 minutes in and after soaking up some pressure we hit them on the break. Big Seb held up the ball and released Kastaneer down the right. His directness drove him to the byline and he whipped a ball to the far post where Osawe met it with his head and we were 1 up. Cracking start. Then just before the break, a nice bit of passing between 4 of our lads on the right opened up a gap for Kasteneer again. However, this time he fired a low early cross to the far post where our Left Winger Osei-Kwadwo tapped in from 6 yards; 2 up before the break, amazing.

Hannover came out strong in the second half but we were resilient and solid. We coped with everything they were throwing at us and caught them on the break right at the death. Stenzel brought down Osawe in the box and Albaek converted the penalty; our first 3 points of the season and a clean sheet, the stuff we could have only dreamed of.

But lets not get too carried away, we’ve got Bayern next, gulp.

Let’s not beat around the bush here, there was no way I was going to be adventurous today, a Contain/Structured approach was the only way forward. Bayern had appointed Klopp as there new boss and made a big signing in Lorenzo Insigne to replace the aging Ribery. I was fully intending us to be on the back foot today, and I was exactly right. Osei-Kwadwo gave away a freekick and Insigne fired it into the box looking for their aerial threats. We dealt with it well and headed clear but only as far as Vidal who I was fully expecting to have a pop from range. Instead he seemed to hesitate on the ball as we pressed him; under pressure he passed it back to Boateng who wasn’t expecting it and Kasteneer picked his pocket; we were now in a 3 on 1 counter situation, with Tolisso being their only one back. Kasteneer played an early ball into space for the pacey Osawe to chase. That dragged Tolisso to the ball and opened up space for Big Seb. He stayed onside and Osawe found him, one on one with Neuer he struck it straight at him, but the German number 1 could only parry it into the stride of Osawe who tapped it home. Bloody hell, we were 1 up against Bayern.

Just 15 minutes later Bayern were level thanks to Muller, he scored from a tight angle which Adler really should have saved. Bayern kept huffing and puffing but couldn’t blow our house down. All they could do was have wayward long shots which was great. It ended 1-1 but we had multiple chances to win it. I should really be happy with this point but actually we could and probably should have walked away with more. Very proud of the performance. Festung Betzenberg!

bayern.png

After feeling over confident following that result, we then, in typical Bowen fashion, went on a 5 game losing streak, losing to Stuttgart, Dortmund (embarrassingly), Hamburg, Leverkusen and Frankfurt. 5 points from 11 games and sat rock bottom of the Bundesliga; morale was at an all time low.

oh dear

So you tried to put a fire out but you used gasoline.” Brand New

So how do you turn around a sinking ship with a squad that is suitable for the league below? I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about or that this is the best way to get out of a slump. Instead I’m going to tell you my approach.

Everyone’s favourite Bundesliga club RB Leipzig were the task in hand, they were sitting in 4th place. Rather than go at them with my 442 that I have been using up to this point, I decided to change things up. Using my Data Analysts report, I copied the predicted tactics into one of my tactic slots. This gave me an indication as to where the weak spots are and I aimed to exploit them if I could. It was worth a shot, we had been woeful and needed points desperately. They opted for a 424 system, so I opted for a 4411 with my fullbacks playing more defensively and focus on my wingers getting forward with my CM’s sitting deeper. The AM could exploit the space behind their two CM’s. We sat deep and intended to catch them on the break and that’s exactly what we did.

Osei-Kwadwo played a nice one two with Albaek which completely cut through behind their RB. A quick low pass to Kasteneer who had cut inside and he drove a finish past the standing RBL keeper; we were 1 up with 15 minutes to go. Leipzig were pushing and pushing trying to get back in it. Then in the 91st on the break again, Zeigler played a long ball out wide to Osei-Kwadwo who was once again in space on the left. He cut it back to Halfar who played a low pass between the CB’s into the stride of the on rushing Kasteneer who made to 2-0. Gio Simeone pull one back straight from the kick off but it wasn’t enough, we done it, a 1-2 victory.

So I continued with this analysing of the oppositions shape trying to find weaknesses, again acting like I know what I’m talking about. We managed to beat Hoffenheim 3-2, who themselves were having a dreadful season with new manager Peter Bosz. Nagelsmann has moved to Leverkusen as Heiko Herrlich moved onto Dortmund, even though he won the league title with Leverkusen last season; managerial merry-go-round in this save.

We followed that up with a 2-0 win away at Dusseldorf; I liked that one very much. Unfortunately we lost by a goal to nil against Bremen who around down at the bottom with us, it just didn’t go our way in that one.

Our final 2 games of the Hinrunde where away at Schalke and home to Hertha, which both were 2-2 draws. So 11 points from our last 6 games, I’m incredibly pleased going into the winter break, although we are not out of the woods yet.

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Senior Fixtures

Bundesliga_ Overview Stages

Like I said, not out of the woods just yet, but a big improvement to get ourselves off the bottom of the table. Let’s hope we can keep it up.

Join me next time when I round up the season. Thanks again for all your support.

#Betze

#4 Die Roten Teufel

My Post

Welcome back to the 1.FC Kaiserslautern series, where in episode 3 we were at the winter break following a pretty decent campaign so far.

We started off at home to Nürnberg where thanks to on loan Spalvis we got ourselves a very impressive 1-0 win. Our next outing was at high flying Heidenheim where we were completely outplayed. They opted for a 4312 which flummoxed us and they ran out 2-0 winner’s.

Unfortunately for us, Spalvis has agreed to sign for another club at the end of his contract at Sporting, I’m gutted as I would have loved to have him for a bit longer.

That being said we still managed to impress on the field with three wins back to back against Dresden, Sandhausen and Regensburg (great FM team name) all without conceding.

That decent run came to an end after a 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld in a game in which I was certain it was going to end goalless until we conceded from a deflected long range shot with only 3 minutes left.

Following that defeat we had a run against the top two in the 2. Bundeslinga, which we really stepped up to and got results. A 1-0 win against 2nd placed Holstein Kiel thanks to a goal from Przyblko in stoppage time of the first half. Now he was only playing due to a 1 month injury to Spalvis. He is also a chap who I never highlighted in my ‘meet the squad’ post, due to a 6 month injury and I didn’t actually think he’d feature once he returned. How I was wrong and how he proved important; he will be featured again later on.

Next up was top of the table, and a side that I am all too familiar with; Fortuna Dusseldorf. The league leaders took a two goal lead with goals either side of the break. An assertive team talk and a switch to ‘Clear ball to flanks’ instruction gave us an outlook to put them under pressure. Andersson scored just before the hour followed by Przykblko with 10 minutes to go. Then stepped up Mads Albaek who in the 94th minute fired a long range drive into the back of the net to snatch all 3 points.

We follow up those brilliant wins with another against Greuther Furth, only to be caught short against Erzgebirge Aue. That then sprung a 4 game run without conceding a goal; two wins against Duisburg and St. Pauli, followed by two goalless draws Darmstadt and Union Berlin.

Into the final two games of the season now and somehow we have got ourselves into 3rd place and a chance of promotion; with Dusseldorf looking like they will clinch the title, its only 6 points separating 2nd place and 6th place and it could mean any 1 of 6 that could make that automatic promotion spot. Now being honest I don’t think promotion would be good for us this year, another year at this level will suit me just fine as we can build ourselves into promotion candidates next year. We are predicted 7th anyway.

The penultimate game was away at Braunschweig, where I’d rather not speak too much about what happened. A 3-1 defeat is all we need to know. However, 2nd place Hosltein Kiel also lost so the very distant thought of promotion hadn’t gone just yet.

Final game of the season was at home to Bochum, who themselves could still be in with a chance of reaching the 3rd placed playoff spot if results go their way. However, we destroyed them in a thrashing 4-1 win and ended our season in style.

Although, the tale doesn’t end there. Holstein Kiel who were 1 point ahead of us going into the final day, drew which meant somehow we leapfrogged them into 2nd place and snatch the promotion spot right at the death. Mixed emotions of I’m honest; delighted on one hand that somehow with this squad and no new additions we managed to achieve such a feat. On the other hand, like I said earlier, we are not ready for this and the squad needs to be strengthened drastically if we are to even think of survival. Maybe if we just enjoy the ride for a year, come back down then build to go back up, if that could be an option it might be the smartest.

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1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Senior Fixtures-2

2. Bundesliga_ Overview Stages-2

On a final not I want to show you how Cakar is developing, remember him from the squad post, he had 1 determination but a decent star rating potential. He’s had 6 months being tutored by Altintop followed by Andersson and his personality has improved to Professional and his Determination has shot up. I aim to sign another striker with a better personality and higher Determination again to boost him up next year. Then once he is 18 I will start to give him game time.

Abdulkerim Çakar_ Overview Profile

Well I think after all that excitement it’s time to call that a day on this post. Join me next time as we look at how on earth we are going to be able to compete in the dizzy heights of the Bundesliga.

#3 Die Roten Teufel

My Post

Welcome back to the third instalment in this series were I aim to take 1.FC Kaiserslautern back to the great heights of years gone by. We last left of looking at the squad for the upcoming season and outlining the type of player I will be looking towards during this career. CLICK HERE if you haven’t seen the squad yet.

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Profile

Tactical Plan

After looking at the squad, initially I struggled to think of a shape and system that would suit us. Due to a high amount of defenders and central midfielders I thought that a variation of a 451 could be useful, with the idea we can easily transition to a 4123 with a DM or a 4231 with a AM. So that was the plan going into pre-season. After the first game it was blatenly obvious that the strikers we have at our disposal were simply not good enough and were getting too isolated working up top on their own. I wanted to utilize our wide men whilst having a good balance in midfield, but that meant leaving 1 man up front which I wasn’t liking.

The next game we transitioned to an old fashioned flat 442 which straight away we seemed more suited to. After a bit of tweaking through the friendlies we came up with a better plan. Below is the system that we put together.

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Overview

By no way do I feel this system is the finished product yet, however, I do feel that it is a basis that we can build upon. After reading FM_Samo’s excellent article on his version of a 442 (READ HERE) it got me thinking, how else can it be implemented and what variations can we take on this ‘old fashioned’ team shape.

The beauty of a 442, is that it can be used and implemented in so many different ways, whether it’s having two attacking wingers, two holding midfielders, one deep midfielder and one bombing on, overlapping fullbacks or a flat back four that doesn’t adventure much past the half way line, pumping it long to a big man little man partnership, you get the idea by now. The beauty of it is that not one way is right nor wrong, nor is one version better or worse than the other. They all have there strengths and weaknesses and that is something I hope to highlight with this system.

First of all, as mentioned in the previous post, I want this side to be physically and mentally tough. That in my mind doesn’t shout a rough and aggressive press, getting stuck into every challenge and being right in the back pockets of the opposition, no. How I invision it, is us being a tough side to break down, I want to be defensively solid and make sides really work to open us up and leaving us the opportunity to catch them out when they are exposed.

That being said, what I don’t want is for us to be too deep or negative that we invite the opposition to camp in our half and bombard us for 90 minutes.

  1. I don’t the we have a good enough side to be able to resist that kind of relentless attack.
  2. I don’t think I’d enjoy playing and watching that game to game. Let’s face it, it’s about fun and enjoyment at the end of the day.

When it comes to our set up, I’ve kind of gone for a mixed bad approach. I want it on the whole to be pretty basic with my intentions to change mentality and shape from game to game. I am a creature of habit and as the above image shows we are on fluid. Fluid is our starting point and if I feel like it’s getting the right movement throughout all transitions against our opponents then I’ll keep it, if not we will move accordingly. Sometimes structured will be a good approach as we can lengthen our playing lines and stretch the play if on the back foot and wanting to break forward.

The defensive line is one that can be managed from game to game but generally I want my centre defenders to be pretty basic but not too basic they just to hoof it away like a Sunday league defender, trust me as a fullback that used to play at that level myself it was one of the most infuriating things. I’ve always be of the mould that if you have control of the ball your opponents can’t score, so rather than it be panic stations and we clear it long each time, I like a gentle build out from the back approach, but with the caveat that if under too much pressure they will just clear their lines.

We also have a fullback each one support and attack, this will also be adjusted game by game depending on where our opposing threats are, but from our own attacking point of view, it adds different layers to the attacks. These guys are our main outlay from the back, our Sweeper Keeper will distribute to these guys who then have the options to start the transitions going forward.

My midfield is a very balanced quartet, with our wide men both having an attack and support role. Similarly to the fullbacks this adds layers to the attacks, this time however, they are on opposing sides to the fullbacks so they are not treading on each others toes. Neither have any specific instructions except to cross more often and to aim for the centre.

The two centre midfielders probably have the hardest job of all, especially in this day and age where midfield 3’s are everywhere. The weakness there is they will get out numbered, so in my eyes, they need to be conservative in their flurries forward and main focus to protect the central defenders. So in order to do this I have opted for a DLP with a Defend duty, who’s main role is to recycle the ball looking to dictate the game. His locked instruction is to hold his position so he will be my deepest of the two. This is where I see Albaek and Halfar operating from. Their partner in crime will be a role that over the last year on FM I have become very fond of and one that previous to that was very frightened of; the Ball Winning Midfielder. Due to it’s aggressive nature, I have always been afraid to use it due to the miss conception that it roams a leaves huge gaps in the midfield. To be honest, I don’t have a pressing system, if I did then maybe this would occur, but from what I see of it is his overall aim is to get back into position so he can make a challenge. This role will be used on support, support you say, yes, support. The support option makes it work like a box to box midfielder, making positive forward runs, looking and wanting the ball in the final third and even getting into goal scoring positions. For me it is a really underrated role, that you don’t often see people talking about, not from what I’ve seen anyway.

What I really like about this years addition to the game, is the ability to find the weaknesses or danger areas of a tactic just on the tactics screen. This may have been mentioned by someone on a blog post or YouTube video at some point since the game was released but I’m late to the party, so for me it’s new news.

The tactics pitch is sectioned off into zones that look like squares on a chess board, but these squares give off more than just a groundsman’s fancy pitch design. The brighter the green square, the stronger that zone is fot your system. When the square goes darker with a hint of red, that highlights a weak spot for your tactic. So even for someone that isn’t that tactically minded can see where the potential flaws are when creating a system.

Here are the examples of our weaknesses:

As you can see, it’s in the areas that I’d expect to see with a 442, however, none of these issues have me worried ahead of the season. All systems have weak spots, I’ve highlighted mine and I will look to build similar systems that can be implemented if any of our opponents are wise enough to exploit these weaknesses.

Now the ramble about tactics is over, lets see how they have actually got on.

Friendlies

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Senior Fixtures-4

An unbeaten pre-season which is very pleasing to see and up against some decent sides in Wien and Sion. Good confidence builders for the campaign ahead.

2. Bundesliga

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Senior Fixtures-3

As you can see above, we’ve had a variety of results this year. I can’t say the aim to be solid as a rock has paid off just yet but it is early days. Aside from a couple of dreadful defeats where we were just picked apart, especially against Bochum; for those who are in my slack channel would have seen my rant about their treacherous long throws. Sigh! It reminded me of Chelsea on FM15, oh the pain!

One thing I can say though, is our strikers have been finding the net, especially our on loan Lithuanian, Spalvis. His contract is expiring at the end of the season so I’m hoping I can lure him to sign for us on a permanent basis.

Let’s take a look at the table at the Hinrunde.

2. Bundesliga_ Overview Stages

Sitting nicely in 6th place, we are one place above where we are predicted to finish and the board, fans, players all seem happy. I’ve been given a contact extension until 2020, which I have snapped up. To be honest, all I’m looking to achieve in this first campaign in stability and then build to promotion in a year or two’s time. Remember I have made no signings what so ever and am using the same squad which are sitting rock bottom of this league in real life. Anything other than relegation really is a decent season.

DFB Pokal

1. FC Kaiserslautern_ Senior Fixtures-5

The Pokal saw us go through two rounds against lower league sides until we met our match against Dortmund. Now, I never expected or intended to go far in this competition but I wanted to compete, which I felt we did. Personally I didn’t want to be destroyed by Dortmund and ruin our moral at this point of the season so I went with a narrow Contain system, with short passing to keep hold of the ball. As expected we lost but luckily it wasn’t a demoralizing one.

So if you have made it this far, I applaud you. This sums up the Hinrunde ahead of our 5 week winter break. Join us again next time to see where we are come the end of the season. Can we continue in this vein of form? Or will we start to get exploited with our two man central midfield and lack of defensive cover?

#2 – Die Roten Teufel

My Post

Looking at our squad for the upcoming save, we will take a look at our first team players, ones for the future and what I’ll be looking for in our clubs blueprint.

As previously outlined in the introduction post, I want to try and rebuild the mental and physically tough side that made the Betzenberg such a fortress #FestungBetzenberg. The key components that I’ll be looking for will be Determination, Work Rate and Strength; Aggression will also be something I’ll be looking at but not a must have.

Goalkeepers

Jan-Ole Seivers

At the age of 22, Jan probably hasn’t finished his development; he has some reasonable attributes but nothing that stands out terrifically. Currently set to Back Up, I’m hoping that with a decent tutor and a bit of game time in the future he could make a slight improvement. Whether it will be enough to break into the first team though will be the question I’ll be asking as the months go on.

Marius Müller

Marius is by far a better keeper than Jan and to be fair to the lad, he probably will improve with continuous game time this season. The only downside is he is on loan, so whether we can get him from Leipzig on a permanent basis later on is another question. If things go well for him we be in a dilemma situation, where Leipzig don’t want to sell or out price us, then if Jan doesn’t improve as much as we hope, we could be in desperate need of a keeper. Operation keeper search will be first scouting mission for the season.

Defence

Philipp Mwene

At 23, Phillip looks a decent fullback for us; with Stamina, Work Rate, Determination and Aggression all 15 and above, he will certainly fit the mould for the philosophy we are trying to create. The fact he equally good at going forward than he is at defending makes him a very versatile fullback at this level; he can also play on the Left and Right which adds to his credentials. Very happy with this one!

Benjamin Kessel

Another very good looking Fullback for this level; his key components are all again above 15 with the added bonus that he is also good in the air. At 29 he will bring experience to the heart of the defence and we are looking pretty good at the Fullback position.

Leon Guwara

Leon is another very good prospect on loan from a top tier club; whether we could keep him beyond that in yet to be seen, but on face value looks decent. His key attributes aren’t as high as Mwene or Kessel but no too far off and probably still high enough for this division. He gives us a little extra going forward than the other two so can still be utilized.

Joel Abu Hanna

Joel looks a very decent prospect for 19 years of age; more prominent as a Centre Back but with an option as a more defensive Left Back. He looks pretty tidy for a 19 year old and with a decent tutor could develop nicely; my only concern for his key attributes is his Work Rate, but he is brave and confident on the ball, so he is definitely someone I’ll be keeping a close eye on.

Giuliano Modica

The little Argentine Central Defender who can also be utilized as a defensive minded midfielder, seems an all-round decent option for us. Nothing spectacular but can definitely be useful. Key attributes all looking decent here.
Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker
Ah Jan, my experienced double barrelled double barrel; on loan from Augsburg and at the age of 32 is still fairly decent. He has good mental attributes but is lacking in the Work Rate for my liking. He will be a decent squad player for this season only.

Marcel Correia

We have ourselves another Correia; for those who don’t know, I had two at Espanyol. Marcel though looks a pretty decent defender, again nothing too outstanding but pretty handy.

Patrick Ziegler

Patrick is probably my favourite CB we have to be honest. He is nothing fantastic but certain areas stand out over the others, probably just his name, but hey ho.

Stipe Vucur

Very similar to Ziegler in a good all-round CB, the only added thing with this Austrian beaut is he is very tall and a threat in the air. Note to self, make use of this at set pieces! I think that these two will be my main defensive partnership.

Midfield

Gino Fechner

This young man looks a fantastic prospect for us, at only 19 he is showing some really good potential to be a real star at this club. Having the option of using him as a DM, CM or a CB will be invaluable as his attributes stand out that he could do a great job in any of these roles. Really happy here.

Mads Albaek

An all round decent midfielder, with very good playmaker abilities; this Dane can operate as a DM or a CM wonderfully, at a push we could use him in other areas in the midfield strata’s but centrally could show off his really ability.

Manfred Osei-Kwadwo

To be fair to Manfred, he is a fairly ok winger with the ability to cut inside. My coaching team believe he has the room to improve, I’m not so sure, but at 22 will there be enough improvement? I’m not too confident of how I will implement this chap but he may play a part in this opening campaign.

Ruben Jenssen

A very, very good versatile midfielder, on loan from Dutch side Groningen, Ruben can play an influential part in this campaign, whether I use him through the centre, or out wide, he has the skill set to drive us forward. His only downside would be his strength.

Brandon Borrello

My Australian winger Borrello, I have the option of using him as an out and out winger or cutting inside and utilizing his finishing skills, I’m not sure which I’ll go with, possibly a variety of systems, or maybe I’m just talking up my tactical knowledge like I actually know what I’m talking about. Either way, Brandon could be important for us this year.

Christoph Moritz

The second of my playmakers, although to be honest, I’ll probably be using him in a ball winning role with the added bonus of him being composed and have the ability to pick a pass when needed. Who knows really, options are good I suppose.

Daniel Halfar

My third playmaker, now you can see my dilemma, three very decent passers of the ball. Surely I couldn’t have three playmakers on the field could I?… No don’t be silly, I’m going to have a tough battle on my hands as to how I should handle these guys.

Gervane Kasteneer

My versatile Dutchman, who can play on both wings and up top, although I think his pace and crossing ability he could work well as a winger. Similarly to Borrello, he could also be used to cut inside too.

Forwards

Halil Altintop

The Turkish legend, what a surprise to have this guy at us, still at 34 he has some decent attributes. I can definitely use his ability to drop deep and be creative in the final third, his experience could really help the young lads. However, my only disappointment with him is his personality, I would have like him to be at least Professional, but that’s just me.

Lukas Spalvis

This little Lithuanian on loan from Sporting could possible work out to be a hero for us this season. His finishing and composure ability could really do well in this division, let’s hope his knuckle head manager can get the best out of him.

Osayamen Osawe

A fairly decent striker who in this division can probably cause some damage with that pace and acceleration. The rest of him is ok, but nothing special. A good impact sub at best I think.

Sebastian Andersson

Seb, my Swedish Target Man; now I’ve never played with a Target Man before but am actually quite tempted. With his height, strength and aerial ability, it could work wonders, or be a complete failure, time will tell.

Adbulkerim Cakar

My final striker is a 16 year old prospect who my coaching team think very highly of. Now, I can see the potential there and at only 16 he definitely has room to develop. However, He needs a decent tutor and fast, but all potential tutees are fairly professional or worse. That might not be a bad thing first of all because he determination attribute is only 1, so anything might be good enough to improve him. I’ll be honest I was excited to see him first of all then I had a secret chuckle to myself, followed by a painfully sorrow cry. Like keep an eye on this young boy and how he comes along.

So that’s it, I hope I haven’t bored you by this point. I don’t aim to make any signings in the first transfer window and possibly not any in January either, unless the squad gets depleted in some way.

I hope this post was useful, shoeing you the squad and my initial thoughts about them. At this current time I have no idea how I will put it together on the pitch. Time for me to get out a note pad and pen and start sketching.

Please stay tuned for the next post where I will round up the Hnirunde, I’m excited optimistic and can’t wait to get stuck in.

Before I leave you, I just want to share with you the custom kits I have created for this save. Hopefully they will bring us good luck. Any #FCK fans out there, please let me know your thoughts on them.

Much love, speak soon.

Introducing FM18

For those of you that know me, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of German football. It will be no surprise that my first venture into FM18 will be back in this magical land of footballing history. With that in mind I want to take on a club with a big history, not necessarily of titles, but one that has maybe been forgotten about for a while, so I’d like a chance to rekindle that love affair with being a top club again.

When I think of German football and I think of big clubs that have faded from memories and in the supporters eyes, are not at the level they once were, two clubs come to mind…

1.FC Nurnburg and 1.FC Kaiserslautern.

For two reasons, I have chosen FCK to begin this journey.

My Post

1. Fritz Walter – the iconic captain who lifted the 1954 World Cup, who is the namesake of the clubs fantastic stadium; the Fritz-Walter-Stadion. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this national legend, if you’d like to know more about him, please read Matt Evans fantastic piece over at These Football Times.

2. The 2nd reason is Michael Ballack. He started to make a name for himself as he was part of the club’s to promotion from the 2. Bundesliga to the Bundesliga and winning the title the following year. The only club in German history to achieve such a feat. His strong physical style was something of a ‘lautern’ philosophy; something that we will hope to create later in this series. Being mentally and physically tough will be essential.

A brief background of FCK:

  • Known as Die Roten Teufel – The Red Devils.
  • A founding member of the Bundesliga.
  • 10th most successful club in German history (4x Bundesliga titles & 4x runner up, 2x Pokal winner & 5x runner up, 1x Supercup, 2x UEFA cup semi finals & 1x Champions League quarterfinal).
  • 5 clubs merged together (Germania 1896, FG Kaiserslautern, FC Palatia, FC Bavaria & SV Phönix) to form 1.FC Kaiserslautern.
  • Their ground is also known as the Betzenberg, or Betze for short. It became a fortress during their Bundesliga years, so we will try to rebuild the “Festung Betzenberg”. No one liked to play there, even Bayern struggled.
  • Former player Hans-Peter Briegel was commonly known as “Die Walz aus der Pfalz”. Roughly translating to “roller” or “steamroller of Palatinate”, which could be quite fitting for a tough, physical approach we could be trying to build. Could we have a second coming and develop our very own Die Walz aus der Pfalz?

So that wraps up this introduction post into my first FM18 save. Stay tuned for Part 1 where we have a look at the squad and how we will go into the start of the season.