FSV Mainz 05 – 1.2

gotze wallpaper

Welcome back to the 2nd of quick installments, this post will look at our transfer activity, our tactical approach and how we are doing domestically. I hope you enjoy. If you need to check out the first piece click here


Not an overly hectic transfer window considering it was my first window at the club, I was pretty happy with the squad after arriving in those 9 games at the end of last season. I knew that a few fresh faces would add competition and boost the squad so we can push on from what can only be described as an underperforming season last campaign. Let’s start with the players we bid farewell too. Firstly club captain, strong centre back Mitrovic on his leave to Norwich. Initially I didn’t want to part with this chap and rejected a bid, in doing so FM strung up the typical response, a heated conversation form the player demanding why I didn’t let him go. After trying to convince him to stay, here clearly didn’t want any of it, so fine then Sonny Jim off you go. Poor old Norwich weren’t the best in negotiation with money; in fact I didn’t even have to try hard at all. They came in first with a bin of €3m which I negotiated straight to what I thought he was worth, over 3 times that amount at €10m. Norwich came straight back with that figure, thank you very much, see you later Mitrovic, and don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you.

Alex Iwobi is someone that I really didn’t want to part with but everyone has a price and when West Ham came sniffing I could not resist, on the flip side I noticed last year that the club does lose a fair amount of money each month so this would come I handy trying to stabilise the books, alongside the new attendance at the new stadium.

Another departure was talented fullback Zimmer, who had been poached by Leverkusen on deadline day. This offer was intercepted by the board and accepted on their behalf, to be perfectly honest I would have liked him to stay around as he put in some great performances in those 9 games last year. However I probably would have accepted that offer anyway, so I’m not too concerned about that one.

We have been very fortunate with the guys arriving at the club with 3 of them coming in on a free transfer and 3 being those high profile players the board wanted. Let’s start with the marquee signing, released from Bayern in the summer after being transfer listed, World Cup winner Mario Gotze. A player who has lit up the Bundesliga with the two biggest clubs over the years is now at Mainz. He arrived later into the season as to start with he demanded ridiculously high wages at over €185k a week. So I played it cool and patiently waited, then swooped when he was desperate to play for someone and got him at a fraction of what he initially asked for €73k. Get in Mario, you little beauty.

Another big name signing was transfer listed by Dortmund, and at €6m young Angel Correa is a bargain, adding flair and pace to the side. Once he and Gotze start to blend together we should become a real attacking force in the league.

Young Val and Celismar were brought in as talented young players who could step in as cover this season. Although I mentioned earlier about my youth development plan, I couldn’t turn these guys away. These two should develop nicely and become first team players very shortly. Val has already made a few starts this season as I experiment with things, whereas Celismar has gone out on loan for the season ready to be fighting for a place next year.

To replace Mitrovic I pounced upon Marc-Oliver Kempf, a very talented centre back from Wolfsburg. I don’t really need to say much about him except a ball playing rock. I also piked up Zoltan Imrik a player who I am very familiar with from my time at Dusseldorf (I’m allowed to raid my old club right?). I snapped him up for them last season, but never really gave him the opportunity to shine. This time I have, putting him in contention to battle with Gotze for a spot in the side. His young skills make him a decent player and one who I hope will grow with first team football.

Our last signing was young centre midfielder Ivan Gallardo, coming in from Barcelona with a growing reputation coming up through the famous La Masia. He is a tireless midfielder with exceptional talent and the desire to grow. Barcelona’s loss is our gain. Working with Correa and Gotze, these 3 could be part of a deadly midfield force.



I have stuck with the flat 433 system that I introduced during the 9 games last season that worked pretty well. The system is influenced heavily on Klopp’s Dortmund team that was so successful during his period there. Playing a fluid, high tempo, aggressive pressing system that attacks space effectively. The reason behind the flat midfield 3 was it wasn’t so transparent to play against. In attacks it effectively blends into a 4231 with addition support from one of the midfielders and the fullbacks. When defending it can be a brick wall with the flat 3 or transition into a 4123 with the Centre Midfield (D) to drop into the hole protecting the back 4. Both wide men are set to different roles with the right side as an attacking Winger whose main purpose is the sprint to the byline and cross into our advanced forward. On the left hand side is something that Shrewnaldo mentioned in his latest post and something that attacks the space exactly how I imagined. The inside forward is direct and purely focused on cutting into the box, whereas the Advanced Playmaker drifts inside from a much deeper position, floating across the whole width of the pitch, making it very difficult for the opposition to pick up.

The left back is set as an supportive wing back so he can provide the width to the team when the AP drifts inside, whereas the right back is a supportive fullback adding as an option for the midfield or the right winger on the right hand side. The midfield trio are made up of a CM(D), a CM(A) and a box to box midfielder. The balance here seems to be working well with attacks and defence, I am inclined to change to box to box with a roaming playmaker but I am undecided on this. I don’t want it to disrupt the balance we have right now, sometimes a tweak too many can be detrimental to a good system and a flawed one.

I have also made a mirror image tactics for those occasions where we can’t break through a side, the same system but on opposite sides of the pitch can change the way our opponents are set up against us.



The story so far

We are currently sat in 7th position picking up some very impressive wins, quite a few too many draws and only a few losses. Overall I am very happy with our progress and I’m sure that once our players really gel together we can push on for a European place and chisel out some of those draws into victories.

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fixtures 2.png

Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

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FSV Mainz 05 – 1.1




FSV Mainz 05 – mid season update

Thank you all once again for the continuous support for the series, we return to the Carnival Club at the winter mid-season break with a brief update on the season so far, transfers and all things going on here at Mainz. It has been a slow progress this far into the save due to my in depth analysis and assessment of the club. The posts will be split into 2 parts. Part 1 – vision & future. Part 2 – transfers, tactics & season progress.

The vision

As mentioned before in the first Mainz update, the board have the philosophy of signing high profile names to the club, a clear desire that they want to grow and become a big name in not only Germany but in Europe. Alongside this the board have announced the unveiling of the clubs brand new 45,000 seater state of the art stadium, something that I completely missed when arriving at the club. No chance of getting it named after me as I have just arrived at the club and barely had chance to stamp my name in the record books. Instead the club decided to name it after one of their legendary player and manager. Someone in who I think is an incredible manager, one with incredible charisma, enthusiasm, a motivator and has a great tactical mind. Someone who I try to base my managerial style and approach on; he is the one and only Jürgen Klopp. The Stadium simply named ‘The Klopp Stadium’ will show that the club is serious about moving forward and after newly appointing me to be the man that transitions the club towards this vision, clearly outlines the drive the club has as a whole. It confirms that I made the correct decision to take the job on as we both have the same goal.

klopp satdium

A new shift

In addition to this I will be focusing heavily on youth development, an area where I probably haven’t been the best in over the years. My usual plan would be to only give youth prospects a chance if they have a 4 star potential or higher. Asides from that, 95% of youth development would be purchased from other clubs.

I have already assessed the squads and put individual training plans to ensure development is precise. I have also put together an excel spreadsheet so I can track the development with a more keen eye. I have found over the years that sometimes my ability to notice development is blinded when I am concentrating on the first team, the here and now. I have set up a rolling 3 month note system on all young players so I can check their progress and compare it to the previous 3 months. This way I feel I can adjust players training more effectively to suit the attributes that need developing, the ones that are developing at speed or simple the one that are not developing all that well. This in addition to regular football and access to the first team will be invaluable to their progress, this is the first time I have decided to do this and will feedback on how it works. I may just be creating somethings else to worry about, but I gives me a real purpose to develop from the academy. I have already promoted 3 young prospects into the first team squad and have all been getting some game time, either as a substitute or in the starting 11. I will try to stick to this rule and promote 3 players each season. Below are the 3 players that I have promoted.

Sasha Wengerek


Cem Sahin – he needs a little more game time to be perfectly honest. 


Roman Huber


Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

Stay tuned for the next part where i discuss transfers, tactics and how the season is progressing.

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Twitter: @marcbowen17

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FSV Mainz 05 – part 1

A new era…


Hi all and welcome back to the blog. Last update was the last in the Dusseldorf Diary, where after a turmoil season the board decided to give me the boot. Luckily I still had my job as the national coach of Italy to hang onto. My aim was to get back into club management swiftly and not have to wait until next season. Ideally I wanted to stay in Germany for two reasons:

  1. The long term goal is to take charge on the German national side. Ambitious as that sounds having a Brit as their manager, but I am hoping they will have no option but to appoint me.
  2. The second reason I want to stay in Germany is to gain revenge at Dusseldorf. I truly believe that I would have turned things around at Fortuna but the board showed a complete lack of respect and patience with the man that got them promotion, 4 consectutive campaigns in the Bundesliga and Champions League football. The club has never been in a better position, so what better way to stick two fingers up to the trigger happy chairman. Not that I’m bitter at all.

So unemployment is something very new to me, I like to stick around with jobs and have very rarely been unemployed in FM, I flew back home for a quick break to see what was available. The job centre back home in Swindon was filled with drunks, druggies and creatures that can only be described as ‘dog rough’. I turned straight back around not wanting to mix with the majority of Walcot and Penhill (my fellow Swindon readers will know exactly what i mean there), so decided I will fly back Germany and use that as my central ‘hub’ and wait for any potential job opportunities to arise. Plus I get to watch some entertaining Bundesliga football too. My luck was certainly in as quite a few clubs were taking action on their coaches within this period, so opportunities were quickly coming available. Metz (Ligue 1), Crystal Palace (Prem), Rayo (La Liga), Mainz (Bundesliga), Frieburg (2. Bundesliga), Parma (Serie A) and Koln (Bundesliga) all became available within a week of each other. I applied for all 3 jobs in Germany hoping that perhaps 1 would forget about my recent sacking and give me a chance. Koln straight out refused my application filling me with no confidence and that I may have to wait until people have forgotten about my failure earlier this season.

Mainz on the other hand offered me an interview within the next couple of days, filling me with confidence that someone could actually see past the slight negative and look at my achievements and potential to grow. The interview went swimmingly and within a day they offered me the job, a 3 year deal at the carnival club. I accepted their offer and was asked if I wanted to bring in any of my staff from Dusseldorf, I took them up on this offer and made some essential additions. Now my backroom is full of great staff that I am familiar working with and ones who I don’t but hold some great CV’s, I am looking forward to working with them all. The board have 2 philosophies that I must adhere to:

  1. Sign high profile players to the club
  2. Sign and develop youth players and bring into the first team.

Both philosophies I am happy to adhere to, although the first one might not be possible due to the financial and reputation of the club at this moment.  

With only 9 games remaining of the season and us sitting in 12th place, the aim is to simply try and get this group of players working as a cohesive unit to avoid the drop and to finish as high as possible. All players will be given a chance to show me what they can do whilst I figure out what system we will play and who will feature in my long term plans. Initially looking at the squad I was pretty happy with what I could use, especially my 20 year old regen striker who looks like he could become a really decent goal scorer. This ultimately turned me to start playing with a striker with Mainz, as opposed to the strikerless system created at Dussledorf (sorry Guido).


I opted with a pressing flat 433 that moves the ball around quickly from the back working the ball into the box. After I have stabilised myself at the club and work towards next season, I will go through my system in a little more detail, for now its early days and a need to win matches. I will focus more on the tactical side of things in the next post.   

As some of you may have seen on my twitter feed, as if it was fate, my first game in charge of Mainz was away to Dusseldorf, my old stomping ground. What better way of sticking 2 fingers up at them but by beating them in their own back yard in my first game in charge.


The remaining 8 fixtures went very well indeed, picking up 4 wins, 2 draws and only 1 defeat to 3 times in a row Bundesliga winners Leverkusen, the Bayern dominance is fading. The lads all showed me what they could do and were all willing to play for me and my system. Now the big test, improve the squad with little money and develop young talent to push for a starting place, ready to build on for next season.



Summer has arrived in 2020 and it is time for the European Championship. Italy who actually won it back in 2016 drew Turkey, Austria and Bulgaria in group D.  I was strongly criticised by the Italian media for calling up 5 young unproven players over some of the older experienced ones. In my view a 35 year old Chiellini with only 5 pace and who has declined at top international level, will not give me any benefit except perhaps some leadership. Here are the 5 young unproven lads I opted to give a chance to.






We came out of the group stages top after a 1-1 draw with the Turks, a 1-0 win over Austria and a 4-0 win over Bulgaria. The second round sees us against Finland and we went in with confidence but not over confident and picked up a dominant 3-0 win. Now into the last 8 and against the Netherlands, who we beat a week before the tournament in a warm up game 1-0. After leading 1-0 for most of the game, Depay equalised and took the game to extra time. My young front man Lluca came off the bench to score the winner on 118 minutes to send the Dutch home and the Italians into the last 4. England, the current world champions, a real test of our ability and nerve. Well the lads did not disappoint in the slightest, we thumped them 5-0 and booked ourselves into the final against the Portuguese. The final itself was a very scrappy game, very much like the final just over a week ago, with nobody managing to score, taking the game to extra time. This time though Eder did not pop up with a late winner, instead it went to penalties. We held our nerve at never missed, Scuffet was the man of the moment and we lifted the trophy winning 6-5 in the shootout. Making this 2 consecutive European Championship wins for the Italians. Surely the DFB have to start taking me seriously as a potential replacement for Schmidt.


So after all the lows and becoming unemployed momentarily, we finish on a huge high with my most successful achievement in this career. A European Championship Winners medal and accolade to my CV. What a story in a very much up and down year.

Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

Don’t forget to check out social media:

Twitter: @marcbowen17

Tifo: @mbowen17

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Düsseldorf Diary -Season 5

So a 3rd place finish for Düsseldorf means the opportunity of Champions League football, an what a prospect that is for us at this moment in time. Preseason was exceptionally good, winning 5, drawing 3 and  1 defeat. After the success of last season I decided to maintain the same system with no alterations, the Arsene Wenger in me. The campaign started well winning our first 4 games including a 5-0 demolition over Shakhtar in the CL qualifier. After that point we entered a bad run losing 7 of our next games and only picking up 1 win over newly promoted Hannover. Our next 4 games saw us lose 2 and draw another 2, that is where I decided that clearly enough is enough and tactically we have been completely found out and some big changes were needed. Our next 9 games saw a change in fortune 4 wins, including a 1-0 win over Real Madrid, a draw and 4 defeats going into the winter break.

We were eliminated from the CL but finished 3rd so entered the Europa against bloody Spurs. The winter break was cruel to us and in the next 8 games we drew 3 and lost 5, leaving us in a very precarious 15th place looking frantically over our shoulders. That was then the ultimate betrayal came in, some of my players turned against me including 18 year old Okore who came through my youth academy that I was giving valuable game time to lead a player revolt against me. The board also stabbed in the knife and gave me my marching orders. After stabilising the club to a stable Bundesliga side, something that hadn’t been done in a very long time, thrown out to the wolves like a piece of meat.

Currently it is the end of February 2020 and I am still in charge of Italy after qualification to the summers European Championship. I am hoping to take a job within Germany when one becomes available or could be inclined to move around Europe, watch this space. So I’m sad to say the Düsseldorf Diary is over, but the career will continue.

Thanks for all your support throughout In the last post I went into detail of how happy the strikerless tactic was, now if anyone feels that I was clearly deluded and not seeing something so obvious, please let me know so I don;t make the same mistakes again. Clearly it wasn’t as good as I thought, just having a load of luck.

Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

Don’t forget to check out social media:

Twitter: @marcbowen17

Tifo: @mbowen17

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Düsseldorf Diary – Season 4

Dusseldorg Diary

Well, here we go again. We have reached the climax of season 4 and what a ride it has been. Our aim was to simply push on from the fantastic finish last year in 6th position.

As mentioned at the end of Season 3, I wanted to invest in a shadow striker would would be a little more prolific in front of goal. Due to our wonderful final position and the prospect of playing in Europe next season, the board gifted me €30m to spend. After extensive scouting trips and analysing the market, this was our business:


Now simply put I could not turn down the money on the table for my wonderkid Lewis Cook, his replacement was transfer listed Lewis Holtby, almost a like for like replacement except Holtby is 5 years older but has a little more flair, even more pleasing, he only cost 1/5 of the income from Cook’s sale to Man City. The man who I trusted with the ability to fill the shadow striker role was transfer listed Adam Maher. With finishing, passing, technique and determination all between 16-17 I knew that he would be a great addition to my squad, with added European experience. The rest of the signings were all future prospects except for Leibold who came staight in at left fullback and Chamorro who was nipping at the heels of Clemens on the right wing. Lastly we strngthened our number 1 with the highly talented Loris Karius from Mainz. He proved to be a steal at €5.75m keeping a stunning 15 clean sheets in 33 Bundesliga games.

In January, Schalke met the release fee of Max Christiansen and he left for €15m, I knew I needed to find an instant replacement and decided to go for Niklas Stark, a young defender who had already moved to Dortmund but wasnt getting much game time. I snapped him up for the same price, but quite frankly, Stark is the better all round defender so a decent bit of business in my book.

So How did we get on?

Now a little piece of attacking and defending run through of my strikerless tactic.

Dusseldorg Diary - season 2 -  451

A little reminder of the system we are using, a strikerless 4-5-1 with a high pressing philosophy. This tactic is by no means a perfect system by any stretch, but right now it is clicking and we are getting some important wins. There is always room for improvement and I am hoping to iron out any issues as we go forward.

Attacking movements

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The move starts with Wolfsburg in possession and Arnold plays a pass forward which Kirchoff anticipates and cuts out playing it forward to Helmke in a quick transition. In this moment we are set up really nicely with our 3 central midfielders all within close proximity of each other and all free in space. Helmke cushions the ball to our Deep Lying Playmaker Holzhauser. He does exactly what is asked of him and looks up to pick out a precision pass. He sends a delightful ball diagonally over the defence after sporting the run from our left winger Atanga. Atanga is onto the pass in a flash leaving his man behind him, at this point Atanga is racing towards goal but has great support from the opposing winger and our shadow striker. As Atanga progresses into the area he is surrounded by 3 defenders leaving our 2 supporting players in great positions. With both supporting men drawing the other defenders away from the ball, Atanga skillfully beats his markers and is now staring 1-on-1 with the GK, he picks his spot and dispatches it perfectly. Pressing on the ball, intercepting and opposing pass, quick transition forward, through ball, defence splitting runs off the ball and a classy finish. This was one of many pleasing attacking moves during the campaign. We won the game 3-1.


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This analysis starts from our own goal kick, given short to Bader. In this position you can see our team shape is a very prominant 4-5-1. Bader inflicts pressure upon us by being caught out with a heavy touch. Meyer dispossesses Bader but cannot drive forward due to our defensive shape so he plays it backwards to Goretzka. At this point our overwelming midfield step back to pack our 1/3 of the pitch and reduce the options. Goretzka plays a wonderful ball over Bader who is caught on his heels and Meyer has timed his run well. The high pressing philosophy meant that Bader chasing back and Kirchoff coming across causes Meyer to hesitate and lose the ball. Bader drives forward and plays a swift ball to Holtby ready to transition a counter attack. Holtby dithers on the ball and plays a sloppy pass straight back to Goretzka who first time finds Kruse in space where Kirchoff has moved across. The quick pressing comes again and by the time Kruse turns our shape has made a makeshift 1-4-1-4. having two rigid walls to break through with a sweeper behin each wall. Kruse doesnt have many options and fortunatley chips the ball towards Berahino who heads the ball straight out for a goal kick. Threat over, a few enforced errors but high pressing and structured shaped cancelled out any attack Schalke tried to throw at us. We won the game 1-0 in the end.


bundesliga fixtures

We had an incredible season and really pushed on well from last year only losing 4 Bundesliga games all season. We still struggled scoring goals, collectively we scored a fair amount but my shadow striker still wasn’t as prolific as I had hoped, but showed signs of excellence. We ended up finishing 3rd and only 3 points off the top, we stayed in the title race all the way until the last game were we bottled it and lost to Frankfurt. I cant really complain as once again a huge improvement and the prospect of Champions League next season.



Our cup run was appalling, losing in the first round. My own fault as I fielded a young side hoping that would be enough. Well, egg on my face after that one. Our European run on the other hand was more exciting. We danced through the group stages winning 6 from 6. Then progressed nicely through the knockout stages, beating some tough opponents,  all the way to the semi finals where we lost on penalties.


Next season will be fun, some of my youngsters will be given a chance and I am hoping to continue to build the squad so we can continue to grow as a club. 4th consecutive season in the Bundesliga and Champions League football. Dreams are becoming a reality.


Our run with Italy so far has been good, we have progressed through the strange European League system unbeaten and finishing top with 10 points. Hopefully DFB are keeping a close eye on me as I want the Germany job in the future.


I mentioned last post that I wanted to build a traditional Italian system with counter attacking skills. So far it seems to have worked, I am not completely happy with it as there aren’t enough games to really test and understand it. Only time will tell, but I am having fun whilst doing it anyway.


Sorry for death of screenshots this time around but I wanted to go into a little more detail with the story so far. It has taken a little longer to do so but that makes it a whole lot of fun.

Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

Don’t forget to check out social media:

Twitter: @marcbowen17

Tifo: @mbowen17

Tifo Group: +limitedfullback