Welcome back to the latest post in our journey with FSV Mainz 05. This post will be looking at our transfer dealings post our exciting double win, if you haven’t checked that post out yet then click HERE.
Now this last season was arguably my greatest in FM16, managing to overhaul the giants Bayern, in what can only be described as a shock in German football. Our European adventure was something of a delight too, our first journey into Europe and to go onto lift the Europa trophy made our first endeavour that even more special.
So let’s have a breakdown of our transfer dealings this summer:
Starting with our departures:
Not much to say here except young players going off on loan to clubs, including 2 of my prospect players, Fisch and Yilmaz. I am also keeping a close eye on Dekpo, Santos and Hulk. Vestermark came in this summer and also looks a decent prospect, this is his opportunity to develop and maybe enter the first team squad next year.
Not a huge amount to discuss here, I new that in order to develop from last season’s success we would have to invest, so that is exactly what we did, but not a squad overhaul. Just a few guys who could strengthen the side, improve a few areas and a few prospects that I liked the look of. One key area that I just knew there needed to be an improvement was our GK situation. For the last 2 years I have kept faith in the aging Weidwald, who has been an excellent servant for the club. I also brought in Val, a young GK to add as competition to Weidwald but he never really lived up to the mark. His Mainz career was always going to be a short lived one once he started to throw his toys out the pram when I didn’t give him the game time he required. I’m sorry Val but it turns out that Weidwald is better than you so suck it up and admit that you are my back up. So with Val being a big baby and not actually improving and Weidwald being pretty average in comparison to the rest of the league, I wanted to bring in a dominant figure who can be a real presence not only for me but in the entire division. Now I don’t expect to go get the next Kahn or Neuer regen but I at least want someone who will command my defence and be a brick wall between the posts. Germany has always produced some very talented GK’s for decades and I want one of them at Mainz. All top clubs need a top GK, so that exactly what I was after. Finding such player though was more of a challenge than I anticipated.
After searching and scouting around I only managed to find 1 experienced GK that fitted that profile, Gianluigi Donnarumma. At 23 he is still a very young age but has turned out to be pretty good indeed, the problem that arose was AC Milan did not want to sell him. A 20mil bid was rejected and countered with an 85mil offer. No thank you Milan, I will settle for someone else. So back to the drawing board, a started to look for younger German GK’s who I though could develop into something instead of a readymade star. That’s when I stumbled upon young Raphael Bader. Bader looked great and at only 20 years old he could have at least another 15 years to grow and become an icon at the club, maybe even international level. Stuttgart only wanted 6mil for him, so we took the gamble. He was going straight into the first team and to be used in the pre-season to see how he gets on. Pre-season turned out very well for young Bader so he was granted with first team starts, he conceded 27 in 27 keeping 10 clean sheets.
The next area that I wanted to strengthen was somewhere in the midfield area, I wasn’t sure where, but felt like I needed a dominant force to fit into the young side. That is when our next bit of fantastic business came along. Now over the last two years I have managed to pull off some amazing bargain buys, with Gotze coming in on a free and Sane last year for a snip at 4.8mil, you could call them ‘moneyball’ signings but I haven’t sold them yet, just have the potential resale value. The next ‘moneyball’ signing was a smidge more expensive than Sane. Thomas Lemar, transfer listed by Dortmund, valued at 38mil, asking price 25mil. That is it, that is the guy I want in midfield, he could go in the AM role and Bardhi could drop back into a DLP role, moving Huber into the CM(d) position, perfect. Big money move from the champions, it’s a statement that we will to be in that same position next year and years to come. He instantly was worth 40mil after arriving, that’s a potential resale profit of 15mil already. All he has to do is perform and that potential value to rise even higher. Lemar started with a few knocks but has shone in the games he has played 11 games scoring 5 goals with an average rating of 8.81.
So now let’s have a look at the first half of the season and see how the new boys have got on. Can we push on and retain our title, or will it just be a one off fairy tale like with Leicester?
Our first game would be in the Super Cup against Dortmund, most people expect these games to be like an addition to pre-season, like the Community Shield, dull and a bit pointless. This was anything but that, an 8 goal thriller going our favour. Both sides playing attacking football trying to get that win, but we managed to beat them 5-3 at the Signal Iduna. A great confidence boost going into the Bundesliga, where our opening 5 games were extremely tough, if we could come out of this period without defeat then it would be a fantastic start to the campaign. Our run was Stuttgart (H), followed by Bayern (A), Hoffenheim (H), Leverkusen (A) and Schalke (H). In a sense it’s nice to get these games out of the way but all at once, painful. We didn’t start well at all losing 2-1 to Stuttgart; followed by 2-2 draw, 1-0 win, 2-0 defeat and a 3-0 win respectively. After this point we managed to win 8 of our remaining 12 games before the winter break, losing 3 to Monchengladbach, Koln and bloody Freiburg. We finished off with a 2-2 draw with Hannover, of which I was furious about as we let a 2 goal lead slip.
We find ourselves in 4 th place at the winter break, 1 point behind Stuttgart and Bayern but 6 points behind Dortmund. If only we kept our concentration against Stuttgart, Freiburg and Hannover, things could be looking a lot different now. Overall all though I am still proud of the team, it was always going to be a challenge to retain the title this year and by no means are we out of the race, with 17 games left and plenty of points to be gained, we are definitely still in the hunt.
The one thing that has put a dampener on this half way point though is our Champions League run, we were handed a group of Marseille, Benfica and M. Tel-Aviv, a pretty decent group to advance from, I fancied my chances well to progress. Oh how I overestimated our ability or underestimated our opponents, either way our run didn’t last as we finished 3 rd, but gained access to the Europa League again. To be honest we have learnt a lot from our brief time in the competition, learning that every game you need to be on the ball, otherwise you can get so easily punished.
I am very optimistic about the rest of the campaign; we are still in the title race, still in the DFB-Pokal and into the knockout stages of the Europa League. Let’s hope we can bring success again this season. Stay tuned for the next post where all will be revealed.
One final thing to mention is a celebration for the brilliant Leroy Sane winning two accolades over the season. First he won the Golden Ball at the World Cup 2022, which he also lifted with Germany. The 2 nd and most impressive award was the Ballon D’Or, which he managed to beat Neymar and Messi to earn the prestigious title. A 3 rd accomplishment was being named in the team of the year alongside Thomas Lemar.
Thank you all for reading this post and the continuous support. Next post will be the end of season update. Hopefully we can push on from the mid season break.
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