Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Fifth Season, Part Two

He had been logged on for all but a minute when his email pinged, and seeing who it was from, he opened it quickly.

“Hi Coach,

Hope things are going well with you. New York is interesting. The local football scene isn’t all that great, but the school actually has a very good Ice Hockey team. Different sport, men on skates swinging sticks at each other, but it’s one of the few I have found that rivals football in terms or grace an ability. I may be biased because we have a very good squad here though.

Anyhow, the reason I am writing to you today is going to be a bit convoluted. My roommates Brother is dating a girl from Montenegro, and she has a brother who players semi pro ball there, and he was telling her about this kid he saw playing at Titograd, could be the next Stevan Jovetić. Could be worth checking out?”

Coach finished reading the email, type a reply back, then called Christian Preiß, the Chief Scout.

“Mile Rodic, Montenegran, plays for Titograd-“

“Played for Titograd Coach. Linner was in the area, I asked him to stop by and take in a couple of games, he told me Rodic was on his ‘To Watch’ List and found out he had been released.”

“Any ideas why?”

“Apparently. and I am reading this from Linner himself, The young man marches to the beat of a different drummer, and while I am not sure what the color of the sky is in his world, apparently he can play Advanced Forward really well in it.”

“Where’s Linner now?”

“On his way to Croatia for about a month.”

“OK, lets see if we can get a hold of Rodic, or better yet his agent, and see if we can’t get him in for a trial.”

“On it Coach.”

Am not a fan of the Fickle, but if he’s this good at 18, and has potential?

This season has been frustratingly average. Which I expected, but still…

Théo Berdayes is everything I expected him to be, a goal scoring threat who does more than enough to help us win. The rest of the team…well, they are trying. The first part of the season got off to a poor start. My mantra has been, and will be, if we lose, fine, lets just keep it close, because goal differential matters.

The team did not get the memo. And the thing is, neither Bochum or Ingolstadt are any better than us, heck Ingolstadt is as good a relegation candidate out there as anyone else in the League. I haven’t changed the formation, everyone’s is playing in a position they are good in, just for whatever reason, they weren’t clicking.

Starting in October though…

Koln is a solid club, so drawing to them isn’t bad. Bielefeld would have been a draw if not for an Lange OG and some heroics in goal by Lavellee. Thumping Hansa Rostock looks good on paper, until you take a closer look and realize that as bad as Ingolstadt is, Rostock is worse and are also relegation candidates, so them putting three on us is troubling. Mainz thumping us in the Pokal was no surprise, finishing the year out strong though was. Something clicked for Theo, and he started converting a lot more of his chances into goal. I would love to say it was the Rostock game, but I think it was the Schalke game, where he overcame a pretty tough defense to score. The 1860 Munchen game was a snoozefest, but against Braunschweig he had numerous chances before the keeper missed one. Both Schalke and Braunschweig are gunning for promotion, but if the want to win the League, they are going to have to beat Dusseldorf. And seeing as how the score in that game could have been 4-0 them, that could be a hard ask.

At the winter break, we have 6 wins, 5 draws, and 6 losses, for 23 points. We are beating the teams were are supposed to beat more often than not, but the lack of close games and multi point losses is troubling, especially when goal differential is a tiebreaker.

Financially, we are out of the water, but not to far away from shore. We don’t have a lot in the transfer window, but if we can find value in a loan or a free, and maybe move a player or two who no longer wants to be here, all the better.

2027 is looking pretty solid, but if we are being honest a Seurat painting also looks really nice until you get in and realize its just a bunch of tiny dots with holes in-between them….

Christmas was usually a joyous time for everyone, even when the team was doing poorly. That was before the owner of the bar announced that he was stepping aside to take care of his wife, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and the first two sales had fallen thru for a variety of reasons. Now it looked like the bar was going to be closing until a new owner stepped up, and if they didn’t, they would have to find a new place to gather.

“If you had told me before the season began that Théo Berdayes would be the reason we are midtable, I would have asked you to share what you were drinking,” Hans said, looking at the paper.

“He’s had almost as many goals this season so far as Sanogo did last season,” Paul replied. He finished his beer and signaled for another.

“It’s amazing well the teams been playing,” Hans said for what seemed to be the hundredth time that night.

“Amazing what happens when the threat of administration isn’t hanging over you,” replied Sasha, finishing of her last bite of dinner.

“How close was it?” Asked Heninrich.

“I had to make a delivery there once,” Paul replied. He worked as a salesman for an office supply company when he wasn’t doing anything related to BFC Dynamo. “The whole building was a ghost town. Empty desks, no equipment on them, whole sections just…empty. And I Swear I went into one of the media rooms and saw a teenager there watching game films and taking notes.

“Otto?” Sasha, Hans and Heinrich all asked at the same time. Paul looked at them wide eyed.

“About so tall,” Paul replied, holding his hand out, “glasses, Dynamo hat and shirt.”

“Otto,” they all replied.

“Best analyst they had last season,” Heinrich said, as the waitress came by and delivered another round of drinks.

“What happened to him?” Paul asked.

“He graduated, and went off to college. Rensselaer Polytechnic in America,” replied Hans. “Kids going into Biotechnology.”

“Wow,” said Paul, and the table was quiet for a moment.

Uwe, who one would call the senior bartender if the bar actually had a hierarchy, came over and set down anther round of drinks.

“On the house,” he said with a smile. “Are all of you going to be here for the New Years celebration?” he asked, wiping his hands on his apron.

Sasha sighed, a real one, not the dramatic type everyone was accustomed to. “I love you Uwe, but celebrating the day before the bar closes isn’t my idea of a good time. Thanks for the drink though”

Everyone ignored Hans slapping Heinrich, including Sasha, which was a first for the crowd.

“Bar’s not closing,” Uwe replied with a smile, and the table came to a halt.


“We got an investor. Well, an investment group actually bought the place,” Uwe said with a smile. The table erupted in questions until Uwe quieted them down. “Klaus and a group of private investors formed a company and bought the bar.”

“Klaus as in the head of the Supporter’s Club Klaus?” Sasha asked, eyes narrowing.

“In his capacity as a private individual, yes. He had a partner convince him this was a good purchase.”

“Silent Investor?” asked Paul.

“Well, where the bar is concerned, yes. Klaus is bringing on a full time manager, if we are being honest Manfred was to stubborn thinking he could run the place and help his wife, a lot of small things have been missed. No changes from the outside, but the plumbing and electrical need some work, the place could use a makeover,” Uwe said, looking around. The others didn’t disagree with him.

“You turn this place into some modern mirrored and metal boutique bar serving god knows what from god knows where I’ll kill you myself,” Sasha said, taking and long drink and eyeing Uwe over the mug. Uwe wasn’t sure if she was joking, but when both Heinrich and Hans said they had shovels and would help, he smiled and sighed.

“Nothing as serious as that,” Uwe said. “Besides, that’s not what Klaus or his other major investor want.”

“Who’s this other investor?” Paul asked, eyes narrowing.

“He’s at the bar,” Uwe said. “Turn around, and wave.” He smiled and turned around.

Sasha wasn’t the only one who spit her beer out when she saw Coach Schmidt smile and raise his own beer at them.

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Fifth Season, Part One

“How deep in the hole do you thinks they are?” asked Hans. They were standing outside the stadium waiting for practice to open. That they had to pay a nominal fee was beside the point for most people.

“Enough that they are charging us to watch practice,” Sasha grumbled, She took a drink of her coffee and grimaced. “I swear this tastes like something run thru the filter about ten times,” she said, finally lifting the lid off and pouring the contents out on the nearby grass.

“How would you know what that tastes like?” Heinrich asked.

“I don’t, but my grandmother used to talk about how after the war it took ages for them to get anything resembling the coffee, even the ‘ersatz’ stuff was just swill apparently.”

“Speaking of swill…” Hans said.

Sasha sighed. “It going to suck,” she replied. “Anyone with common sense can see it. They’ve got no money for signings, not money to pay any free agents, the best we can hope for is to be a stepping stone club in the short term, or a club that others send their prospects to for some first team playing time.”

Hans was looking around as Sasha talked, and waved to a familiar face in another group. “Well,” he replied, looking back at his own little group of friends. “As long as we stay up.”

Sasha nodded. “You wouldn’t believe how controversial that opinion is…”

First, the good news:

Then again, when you think about it our only other choice was to default, go into adminisatration, and all the way back down to the RegionalLiga, or lower, so the fact were are financially solvent is good. Financially stable? That remains to be seen.

Now, the bad news. I have almost no screenshots from this season. Either I didn’t take them, likely, or misplaced them, possible, but not as likely, because I was interested more in grinding the season out than I was getting screenshots and video. It also doesn’t help that I don’t have a save file from the end of the season, as is my usual practice. However, I can tell from the dates of the screenshots, I was playing this season around the time my wife had her knee replacement surgery, so Football manager was not one of my priorities.

As an aside, her surgery went very well, she’s kicking my tail a lot easier these days, and the can gives her a bot of reach and power when she needs it.

But there some exciting things to happen to the club, at least for me:

The increase is staff sizes was very welcome, not that I’ll be able to bring in the coaches I want, but more adequate coaches and scouts are better than none. The club loves, but, but doesn’t love me love me, which I find hard to believe, because short of turning water into wine this has been a couple of seasons of miracles. The last one is the most important to me though. The club had money in the bank. We had the same training facilities I had when I started, which weren’t that great to begin with. In the real world, making them better is a handy recruiting tool. In the make believe world, it’s still a handy recruiting tool. The transfer window was full of sound and fury again, I swear I must have looked at a hundred or so players, I was having some success, and then AEK came in for Mirza Hamzic, the board accepted the offer, I couldn’t protest (Thanks FM) and he left. One of our better, younger players on the squad, gone.

This season is slightly different than the previous two, in that were aren’t just looking to stay up, but to try and build a foundation for the teams going forward. I don’t need a team full of superstars just yet, but a group of players who play their positions well, play with each other well, and don’t make a ton of mistakes on the field? I am all for that, and a lot of the players we brought in reflected that.

Jiri Slama is a defender who can play more than one position fairly well. He doesn’t score, he doesn’t get an assist, but in his previous seasons at Brno and Sigma Olomouc, he’s been a credible defender, and I can live with that.

Michael Stocker is the same type of player, another solid D9C) who can flex left if needed, or up to DM as well.

Elmin Dold, on loan from Freiburg, can play anywhere on the right side of the field, but is best suited to play D(R).

Franklyn Okerke comes to use from Cottbus, where he played mostly at AM(R) and Forward.

What do these four players have in common? None of them are long term solutions. But they are cheap, solid fixes for the time being, players who wil get an opportunity to do a job and keep it until someone better comes into replace them. They aren’t Bundesliga level players, heck they are probably borderline Bundesliga 2 players, but they chose to come to BFC for playing time in a bigger venue in a bigger league, for cheap.

Why fight it?

Somehow Jean Marie Nadjombe parlayed a few seasons at Fortuna Koln and Offenbach into a move to Bologna for 145K. He played all of three games there, and they put him out on loan. He’s a very good D(L), and while we probably couldn’t keep him if we wanted to, and I looked into that, he’s very solid for this level of football.

Lennard Dohrmann is a stopgap winger, a very good RegionalLiga winger who is probably in a league just beyond his ability level. But every other player I tired to bring into the position turned me down, wanted more money, or went to a bigger club. He doesn’t strike me as a long term solution, but I am more than happy to be wrong here.

Theo Berdayes is the signing of the transfer window. That he’s a loan player from Wolfsburg should tell you everything you need to know about this seasons transfer window. But I wasn’t expecting Hamzic to leave, and Berdayes checked all the boxes off:

  • Filled a positional need
  • Wanted to play
  • Was available
  • Wolfsburg wanted no money for him

He is a very good striker for this level of football. In fact, he looks like one of those guys who could have a long solid career either starting in a League like Bundesliga 2, or sitting on the Bench in the Bundesliga making about the same amount of money.

If you are a team who is in need of help, but are strapped for cash and can’t pay outrageous salary demands of parent clubs, go to Serbia, Croatia, Czechia and Slovakia. There you will find good young players at good clubs on wages so low even paying 100% of their salary will barely affect your bottom line. This years version of that is Antonio Juric, who is a very solid DM/M(C) who could be a quality player if given playing time. He wasn’t getting it at Dinamo, who were more than happy to send him to Berlin.

Lastly, Rachid Moumni. To be honest, if I had the opportunity to sign him, even on a free, I probably wouldn’t. The holes is his game are just to much to get over, but I need midfield depth, and he’s available for the right price (free), so he will be part of the rotation, as long as he doesn’t cost us any games.

The one big hole this season: Getting a better keeper. Lucas Lavallée isn’t bad, but he’s not good, but after every other keeper I went to either turned me down or went to another club, I don’t have a choice really. Pavlovic seemed interested in returning, but Red Star wanted me to pay his full salary and sign a non-negotiable deal that would have cost me somewhere around 4.5M if I wanted him. If this season Lavallée comes anywhere close to being what Pavlovic was for us last season, I’ll be ecstatic.

This season, it’s all about not being relegated again. 34 points, and as close to a positive goal diofferential as we can get, and I will be happy with that. Helping us out this year are the fact that Hansa Rostock and Ingolstadt were promoted, and they aren’t anywhere near ready for this level of football, and of the teams that finished below us last season, 1860 Munchen, Kiel, Regensburg, Magdeburg and Vfl Bochum, only a couple were proactive in the transfer window.

I like our chances.

Custer had a plan too…

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Fourth Season, Part Three

“We are running out of fingernails to hold on with…” – Anon, BSC Dynamo HQ, March 2026

Coach came out of his office, looking a bit more animated than he usually did. The past three months had worn not just him, but everybody in the building down. In the past people used to joke about how during the old days West Berlin always seemed sunny and cheery, an island of light an sunshine surrounded by a sea of gray, said sea usually being building in the Brutalist Architectural theme of some sort.

“Miss Becker, can you have Otto Kurpjuhn come to my office as soon as possible.”
“He’s not in trouble, is he coach?”
“What, no, not at all. I was just going thru the data packet he put together for our last three matches. Whomever he is, he’s a very good analyst, and not only that, he writes a good report. I usually know when I am being snowed by how many multi syllable words show up but this,” he shook the papers he had in his hand, “Is well done. Good graphics, great tables, concise, clear interpretation of the data…I want to go over some things with him.”

Secretary Becker looked away for a moment, clearly caught between delivering good news and bad news. Coach saw her look and slumped where he was standing.

“He was let go in the last round of layoffs?”

“No coach, he’s…” Secretary Becker stopped talking, and looked away for a moment until she saw coach staring at her, using one of the looks he gave a ref who made a particularly egregious call on the pitch.

“He won’t be here till 430ish, coach.”

“Is he on the road?”

“No coach-“

“Is he at the next opponents game?”

“No coach he’s-“

“Then where is he?” Coach interupted.

Secretary Becker looked at her watch.

“At this time of day, Organic Chemistry class.”

“What!?” Now Coach was thoroughly confused

“He’s 16 coach, still in school. He does that-” She gestured towards the papers he was holding “In his free time. Technically he’s an intern-“

“Say no more,” Coach said with a sigh. The he looked at her again with that stare.

“Tell noone else. Does he come to the building at all?”

“No Coach,” she replied

“Good. Do me a favor, ring Herr Meyer and have him come see me soonest.”

“The Club Lawyer Coach?”

“Yes. I need to get Otto signed to a work contract even it means paying him out of my own pocket. I’ll never forgive myself if he works for another team. Thank you for your help.” He finished with a smile, turned and walked back to his office, muttering to himself. Secretary Becker heard him say “Sixteen!” more than a few times before the door shut behind him.

In the Immortal Words of Bart Simpson, “The start of 2026 Sucks and blows….”

To Whit:

Coaches previous…conversation with the Board and the Club President worked, as they all saw the writing on the wall if they didn’t commit to saving the club. The good news is they all dug the hole they are in together, and do not lack for company

The bad news is I am not sure if anyone knows the way out…

The transfer window wasn’t exactly a massacre:

This screenshot is from a bit later in the save, as at the time I was so miffed at what was going on with the finances I didn’t cut and paste…

Anyhow, the big loss/not a loss was Tim Meyer, who went to 1 FC Koln, but I took a gamble and they agreed to a loan back for the remainder of the season, and they paid his salary. Ogbaidze was now in a league he just didn’t fit in, and when Jeju came calling, away he went. I don’t blame him, it’s a very pretty place to play football.

Reher wasn’t getting enough playing time to justify his salary, and that meant he was out.

In response to my turning down a job interview with Wolfsburger in March, the board gave the club another 725K to stay afloat.

The Youth Intake was better than average, which I will take:

I don’t know that any of them will see first team playing time, but I think Uhlig can be a solid D(C).

End of March, Genk offered me a chance to interview, but given that Belgium is a country created for the express reason of giving England and Germany something tangible and away from both of them to fight over, why risk it?

Schedule wise, it was rough. The goal was to not lose as much as possible. And we did our best to not lose. And we did pretty well.

The big take away for me is that we aren’t losing by a lot, and goal differential could be pivotal as the seasons winds down.

The losses to Kiel and Regensburg though, those were annoying. By this point, it was still mathematically possible for us to be relegated, noone believed it. I am in the Terry Pratchett School of odds: If they are a million to one, I’ll hit nine out of ten times…

This is actually a good finish for us. Bochum, Osnabruck, 1860 Munchen, all finished below us. Dusseldorf finished 3rd in the league, and it took 95th(!) goal for them to win.

We finished strong, the win at K-town was quite nice, and we finished higher than anyone thought we would:

11th Place is nothing to laugh at, and neither is the 10.38M Euro’s that was deposited to our accounts, and then sent right out the doors a few minutes later to cover the club debts…

Dragan Pavlovic was a hero between the sticks for us, 36 appearances, and a 7.11 rating. Cvetkovic also has a good season, 2 goals and 4 assists in 28(1) appearances, while Sanogo lead the team with 13 goals.

The teams overall performance was above average, and considering the quality of the players we have, the financial troubles, and the chance for it to go “BOOM!’ in our faces more than once, this is a season to be proud of. We weren’t relegated, we hung in there, and we’re better prepared for next season.

We’re improving, slowly but surely. All we need now is a Keeper, D9C), maybe another M(C) and a Striker up top who plays above his perceived skill level, and we should be good.

It’s all debt.

We’re no longer drowning in it, just barely treading water. The way things are going, out stay in the Bundesliga 2 could be a long one…

Time to get down into the weeds with scouting…

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Fourth Season, Part Two

“Do you think it’s interesting he hasn’t announced who he’s supporting for Team President?” Hans asked.

“He has announced,” Sasha said around a mouthful of food.

“What? He hasn’t made any statements.”

“And that’s his announcement,” Sasha replied, after taking a drink.


Sasha sighed and rolled her eyes. “Sometimes you can say exactly what you want to say without actually saying anything, ja?”

“Maybe?” Hans replied, a confused look on his face.

“Is this a Y Chromosome thing?” Sasha asked, turning to Tobias, who in response choked on his own drink and spent a moment coughing before answering “Maybe.”

“Look, if he supported Ammerbach he would say so, yes?”


“And if supported one of the other candidates he would say so, ja?”

Hans nodded in reply.

“Then by his silence he’s saying he doesn’t support anyone who is running, and why should he, they saddled him with this situation.”

“But we’re winning games, we’re at 23 points!”

“And I shudder to think what sort of Black Magic has been used to pull that off,” Tobias said, glancing over at Sasha, who was sitting in her chair, arms crossed.

“Don’t say it,” he said, and Sasha glanced over at him.

“Say what?”

Her gave her a look, and she sighed and threw up her hands, then went back to eating.

“She still upset at the Hertha game?” Hans asked, the ducking out of the way when he saw Tobias’s hand flying towards his head.

“Definitely a Y Chromosome issue,” Sasha muttered to herself, deciding to finish her meal before starting her rant. Again.

We fight, we scratch, we hang on for dear life, and if we keep one finger on the cliff that stops us from falling, we will have been kämpfen, wir kratzen, wir kratzen, und wenn wir einen Finger auf der Klippe halten, die uns am Fallen hindert, werden wir erfolgreich gewesen sein.” Nicholas Schmidt, locker room speech at the beginning of the 2025/26 season.

Limited funds, limited scouting, and a squad that on paper wasn’t good enough for the league we were in had me believing that even if we started the season strong, we may still be relegated. I tend to be a pessimistic about such things though, in that even if it’s mathematically possible we can still be relegated but highly improbable we won’t be, the voice (one of many to be honest) is telling me that we are getting relegated.

Tactically, I didn’t change anything, we’re still playing the 4-2-4, I’ll make pregame changes based on the recommendations, maybe a couple of in game changes, and while not overly religious personally, I do not tempt the FM Gods if I can help it.

The ‘Ost Cup’ was an idea I had to play a Friendly Tournament with former Ost League teams in an effort to generate more money thru gate receipts etc. It worked in that we didn’t lose a lot of money because noone wanted to televise the games, and getting thrashed by both Jena and Hansa Rostock certainly didn’t help the chances that we would do one next year.

Starting the season of with a win was good, beating Sandhausen in the Pokal then drawing with them a week later not so much, the after beating a pretty good Nuremburg team, the seasons theme began to develop. We lost three games by a total of three goals.

And that’s not a bad thing. It’s essentially a repeat of last season, in that if we win we win. If we draw, that’s fine too, but if we lose, if we can keep it close, that’s only going to help us when the season winds down, because Goal Difference is the first tiebreaker. And Dragan Pavlovic has been absolutely great for us in goal, in his first 8 games his ratings have been 7.8, 6.5, 8.4, 7.4, 6.6, 7.2, 6.8, and 7.5. That’s a trend line I can live with.

Heidenheim was the first game we lost this season by multiple goals, but the game of the season so far was our Pokal Second Round Match against Hertha. Chris Reher, one of our better defenders, was injured in the 6th minutes, and was replaced by Leon Roth, a product of the Youth system who joined the year before I was hired. He is not a good player, but because of our financial woes and other player injuries, he was on the bench.

This was the first game he played for BFC Dynamo. This was the last game he played for BFC Dynamo.

Neto scored in the 2nd minute, Davie Selkie scored his first goal in the 13th minute and his 3rd goal at 45+2, which would be impressive had Eljif Elmas not scored his first goal in the 16th minute, and his 3rd goal in the 33rd. For us a very nice Ott cross had Sanogo scoring a nice goal in the 27th minute. I didn’t yell at the guys at half time, just told them to go out there and do their best. Hertha made some changes at half time, I don’t know what they were exactly, but I went on the attack because why not, and that led to Sanogo scoring in the 53rd minute, and Suljic getting his own brace in the 56th and 59th minutes. At that point Sandro Schwarz said “Genug ist genug”, and Hertha’s defense clamped down, and we didn’t score after that. To be honest, after that second Suljic goal part of me was hoping we could complete the comeback, but Hertha is a Bundesliga team, with Bundesliga money and talent, and while we lost, getting 4 on them was an accomplishment.

The above is a screenshot from later in the save, which is why the rating’s aren’t populated, but Roth ended on a 5.8, and all but two of the Hertha goals went thru him…

We bounced back against Osnabruck, a Hamzic penalty kick in the 90th giving him a hat trick and us the victory. I made no comments about the VAR decision to award the penalty…Neither side wanted to win when we played 1860 Munchen, so in typical FM fashion neither side did. With almost two weeks of good training, a healthy squad of first teamers, a decent position in the standings I felt good about our chances against Dusseldorf, who were one of the better teams in the Bundesliga 2 and were tipped for promotion.

The FM Gods chose that game to laugh at us, as we were 2-0 by the 9th minute. Could be worse, we’re not Tottenham…

The first half of the season ended on a good note, we didn’t lose. A last gasp Hamzic goal in extra time at Augsburg gave us the win, and his heroics in extra time against Braunschweig meant we only lost by 1. A draw with K-Town and a snoozer at Karlsruhe (who had Weiß on the bench after not loaning him to us again because they wanted to give him more playing time…) meant we entered the winter break on 23 points, with a record of 6 wins, 5 draws, 6 draws, and a goal differential of -3, thank you Dusseldorf.

I am pretty sure this isn’t the Christmas gift I wasn’t looking for:

That said, I was looking forward to the January transfer window. There were some good players out there who might come in on a free, the loan pool may not have been deep but it was wide, and on 23 points, I was feeling pretty confident.

New Years came, the transfer window opened, and this happened:

“Fröhliches verdammtes neues Jahr” – Nicholas Schmidt, 1 Jan 2026, at about 11:55AM

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Fourth Season, Part One

Versprechen sind wie der Vollmond, wenn sie nicht sofort eingehalten werden, werden sie von Tag zu Tag weniger

“There’s talk.”

“There’s always talk. What are they saying now?” The restaurant was nowhere near full yet, but they had asked to be sat in the corner just for some additional privacy.

“You,” Dietrich said after swallowing a bite of food, “Are turning down some very good opportunities. At some point teams are going to stop asking you to interview.”

“Who was it this time?” Nikki asked, eating a bite of his own food.

“Beşiktaş.” Nikki stopped mid bite, then shrugged.

“I am happy where I am.”


“What sort of question is that?”

“The one I deserve an answer too?”

Nikki sat back, wiping his lips with with a napkin then taking a drink of wine.

“The new stadium is opening, ownership is behind me, we are building something for the future. I want to see it thru.”

“Even if costs you your career?”

“You think if I fail here other clubs will stop asking to interview me?”

“I think the quality of clubs interested in your service won’t be as good as -“

“Dynamo’s when I took over?” Nikki asked, eyebrow arched. Dietrich was silent for a few minutes, then took a drink of his own wine, then shrugged.

“You doing OK,” he asked a few moments of silence. Nikki nodded.

“Tired. But it’s part of the job. Last season was rough, this season will be just as bad. But that’s why I earn the big paycheck, right?”

“We screwed,” Sasha was sitting down, head on the table, arms over her head.

“What now?” Tobias asked, handing out the beers he had grabbed before sitting down at his own table.

“You haven’t seen today’s presser?” asked Hans.

“Meetings all day,” Tobias replied.

“Excited for the new season, excited for the new stadium, no transfer budget and the wage budget isn’t going up.”

“Ah,” Tobias said.

“What gives Eeyore?” Sasha said, sitting back up and grabbing her own beer.


“Eeyore. From Winnie the Pooh, the Children’s Book. Always doom and gloom. Everything that can go wrong will. We used to call you that behind your back-“

“Not all of us-” Hans said

“All of us…” Sasha replied staring at Hans until he rolled his eyes and nodded and looked away. “Three years ago you would have complained about three things before sitting down.”

“Well,” Tobias said, after taking another drink of his beer, “You’ve been so negative lately, and I figured our group dynamic can’t handle that much, so I am trying to be…less negative?”

Sasha stared at him, then snorted and drank half her beer in one go. Everyones phone beeped, and they all reached for them.

“He’s taking the Beşiktaş job…” Sasha said, not even looking at her phone.

“No, he’s staying,” Hans said after a few seconds reading. “And he signed a new contract. Two years at 138K a year.”

“Two years!” Sasha yelled, and everyone at the table jumped. “He should have signed for life.”

“Settle down Eeyore,” Tobias muttered, ignoring Hans as he spat his beer out.

Finances are…there. The new sponsorship certainly helps out, although if you asked me to swear the accountants weren’t doing something along the lines of an animal sacrifice or black magic, or both, to keep the finances on the right side of black, I couldn’t.


I think we got what we paid for. Nothing to ostentatious, quite serviceable, and I am pretty sure it will last a decent amount of time as well.

15,121 seats, room to expand, now it’s up to me and the club to put butts in said seats and help get us out of the hole our board dug for us.

With no money for transfers, not a lot of wiggle room in the wage budget, and a scouting department who’s budget and size could best be described in one word: Winzig, we instead relied on the General Manager and Screen Flow reports to help us find players we could target, and then try and sign.

Finding players was easy. Getting them to sign on the other hand…

It was the same thing we ran into last year. If they were listed for loan, the parent club wanted us to pay some pretty outrageous salaries. If the club did agree to let the player go out on loan, they didn’t want to come to Berlin.

And then I found it. The one regional bright spot in my quest for good young players willing to go almost anywhere for next to nothing in order to get some playing time.

The former Yugoslavian countries. All of them have goo teams with large rosters who are looking to get their youngsters playing time. Youngsters who in some cases are already better than any player you have on your squad, and who are also on ridiculously low contracts, so if the club asks you to pay a portion, you aren’t going to be out an arm and a leg when signing them. Maybe the tip of a pinky. Maybe.


We need a keeper, no other position really matters. The problem is the ones were willing to come wanted pay well beyond their capabilities, or their clubs thought we would pay a ransom for them. Karlsruher wanted 500K for Max Weiß, which we just didn’t have. I found one keeper I was willing to live with, but then I realized I had not started checking out players listed for loans on other teams.

I cannot find the original screenshots I took for these guys, so I had to reload the save and scout them again. I ran into a couple of issues with that, because at the time we were flat broke and didn’t have money to scout anyone, and it was mid June…

Dragan Pavlović

Quite the determined young man, isn’t he? Maybe not the best reactions or technique, but his distribution, tactical acumen, and agility are nice, and he’s bang average most everywhere else. That’s not a problem, really it isn’t. He’s here on loan with us paying nothing for him, which already makes him head and shoulder better than everyone else we looked at so far.

Lucas Lavallée

Until Pavlovic signed, Lavallée was going to be our starter. The former PSG players had an OK stint on loan at Bastia last season, but PSG let him leave because they have better options. He is one of those solid but unspectacular players who could be a lot better, or worse. His numbers on theis screenshot are from his season at Bastia.

Uroš Sremčević

Sremčević is a depth signing. We need all the help we can get, he was available for loan, we didn’t have to pay anything for him, they expect him to come off the bench. He probably isn’t a full time Bundesliga 2 starter, but I am not expecting him to be one either.

Marko Cvetković

A young M(C)/DM with a ton of upside, Cvetković is going to be part of the midfield rotation. Excellent technique, good first touch, decision making, work rate, decent agility and really only lacking in the jumping category, I suspect in a few years he will be a quality DLP. This year he just has to be good

Luca Belardinelli

There’s always one player you don’t think you are going to get. He’s wanted by bigger teams, your club may not be in the best place, and while their salaries demands aren’t onerous, you are always shocked when they do agree to sign for you/ This year, Luca Belardinelli is that player. The former Empoli player didn’t see the field all that often, but on paper he is easily the best midfielder we have, above average in almost every category without having any real weaknesses in his game. He is a strong Bundesliga 2 player, and getting him in on a free at €71.5K a year is a great deal.

We did manage do convince Union Berlin to let us keep Sanogo another season, but the club itself is in a precarious state. We have some younger players with a great deal of potential: Hamzic, Fuhrmann, Mehri and Ott; and several older players who if they get hurt, or leave, we cannot replace all to easily. At 32 Siebeck is still the best WB(L) I have, and if he goes down I may as well look for a new formation to run. Kircher is adequate on the WB(R) side, but he isn’t getting any younger, or better.

I fear I may not have done enough to keep us up. Again, 33 points in the goal. Again, some things are outside of our control, and if we do manage to get relegated, it may just be in Nikki’s interest to move on…

How will the season go?

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Third Season, Part Three

„Sie treffen eine Entscheidung auf der Grundlage der besten verfügbaren Daten, die Sie zu diesem Zeitpunkt haben. Wir können es uns nicht leisten, zu spielen, was wäre, wenn, wir können es uns nicht leisten, zurückzublicken. Diejenigen von Ihnen, die dies wünschen, ich möchte Sie nicht hier haben. Wenn Sie es sind nicht auf das Jetzt konzentriert und auf den Weg nach vorn konzentriert, nützen Sie uns nichts.”

The door opened before the last knock had stopped, and Coach Schmidt walked thru. More than a few people grimaced.

“This is a closed meeting,” one of the members, Kaspar Mueller said.

“Not when it concerns one of my players,” Coach Schmidt said, sitting down at an empty seat. “I want to know why this transfer is being held up.”

“We aren’t getting value for him,” Herr Mueller said.

“I know,” Coach Schmidt replied. “Are you sitting there telling me you would rather get nothing instead of something?”

“That’s not the issue-“

“How many teams have offered 60K Euro’s for him?” Schmidt asked, looking at the board members.

“Noone,” replied Chairman Ammerbach.

“Then what’s the problem?”

“We feel the team can get more for him before the window closes.” Herr Muellers expression was on the wrong side of neutral when he finished talking.

“We won’t,” replied Coach Schmidt.

“And your positive because-“

“If there was a better offer,” Coach Schmidt interrupted Herr Mueller, “We would have received it by now. As it stands, I am expending an amount of personal capital to make this move happen. If it doesn’t, and I lose that, it will be more valuable then however much money he does move on for.”

“Making this transfer would be a bad decision financially-” Herr Mueller’s response was stopped by Coach Schmidt’s hand slapping the table, hard enough it sounded like a gun shot.

“We are in this position because of a bad financial decision. Why are you intent on fucking it up even more?” Herr Mueller started to respond until he saw the coach staring at him.

“The DFL has said we need to cut payroll. This move accomplishes that. Is is what we want? No. Is it what we can get? Yes. What happens if we don’t make this move?”

“We move him for 60K to another team,” another voice said. Coach Schmidt couldn’t tell who because he was to busy staring down Herr Mueller.

“Who?” Copach Schmidt asked, still not looking away.

Silence answered the coach.

“Show of hands, who here has faith we can move Andreas for 60K before the deadline?” Coach Schmidt looked away from Herr Mueller as he asked the question. Just over half the member’s raised their hands. The Chairmen was not among them. Coach Schmidt reached inside his jacket pocket, pulled out a notebook and pen, and started writing down names.

“What are you doing, Coach?” asked Herr Mueller.

“When the transfer window closes, when the suits from the DFL show up and put this club into administration, and take an axe to it, I am going to tell them who was responsible.”

“The DFL won’t care,” smirked Herr Mueller.

“The fans will. The Supporters Club will. The press will,” Coach replied, putting the notebook away and standing up. “At the press conference, when it’s asked what could have been done to avoid Administration, and that question will be asked, I guarantee it, I will stand there and say I did everything I could to avoid it, that I had personnel moves that would have saved us, and the board stopped them. And I am going to name names. Good Day.” He smiled and gave a sort of half bow, and turned to walk out.

“You’ll ruin your career you do that,” a voice said. Coach turned around and looked at the table.

“Why are you assuming I’ll be the coach after the team goes into Administration?” He asked with a tight smile. “The team is currently on 23 points, were 11 points away from safety with half a season left. This team enters administration, the DFL comes in and cuts payroll, slashes and burns everything down, do you think we will get those 11 point’s? What exactly am I risking? In two years I achieved back to back promotions. I’ve turned down eight job offer’s the past six months. Entering administration isn’t my fault, I’m not the one who thought taking out a 26 Million Euro loan to build a new stadium was a good idea, and the team has been exceeding expectations this season. Heck, my agent reached out to me yesterday, FK Austria Vienna is looking for a new coach.”

More than a few board members blinked at that piece of news. Herr Mueller’s face started to get red with anger.

“Look, allegedly you are all businesspeople. And I say allegedly because for the life of me I cannot find anyone with a modicum of sense to agree that a new stadium build was the right move. But what’s done is done. Now the club is facing administration. I can stop that from happening, we can stop that from happening, but you have to be willing to accept that you aren’t going to get everything you want out of this. You stand your ground, and we don’t move Pollasch, it’s done, over, kaput. And if you do not realize that, then I don’t know what to tell you. You can get something and stave of administration, or you can hope he moves for what you think he’s worth, and when he doesn’t you bear the consequences of that decision.” As he was talking, he pulled out the notebook and shook it. “It takes mud, straw, and water to make bricks. You’ve given me a pile of shit, damned little water, and nothing else, and here we sit at 23 points at the break. We are close to avoiding relegation, close to a payout that will help us long term, but you are too shortsighted to see that. 20K Euros is standing between this clubs success and failure. Is failure worth 20K Euro’s to you all? Good day.”

Coach Schmidt turned and left, ignoring the voices behind him.

Somehow, we held off Administration. By the skin of our teeth, by bribing someone at the DFL to look the other way, I am not sure. But it took three rounds going back and forth with the board to get Pollasch moved to Oberhausen, until finally they relented and let him leave. That took care of most of our payroll issues, Bangert and Brandy going on loan with Luneberg and Viktoria Koln covering most of their salaries helped as well.

What also helped immensely was that we were at 23 points when the winter break hit. A good run of games in October, November and December saw us go 3 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses. 23 points after 17 games was phenomenal for us, but when you look closer and see our goal differential after 17 games was 0, that’s just outstanding.

But the summer transfer woes carried over to winter. With no money in the transfer budget and no room in the payroll, a transfer or even free signing was out of the question. Any player with any ability worth signing on a loan deal their parent club wanted either an outrageous monthly fee and all of their salary covered, or even when I thought I had a player coming on loan without a fee and no salary, they decided they didn’t want to come to Berlin. Cottbus, I meant Cottbus, I keep forgetting we are spending this season there.

The team responded beautifully to the situation:

We made some money of the friendlies. and while neither side played their “A” teams against us, I liked what we did against both of them. However, 9 points in 7 games is just…well…just. And yes, it took some help from the FM Gods to win two of those and draw another, and I am sure one of these seasons they will have their revenge. 31 points at the end of February though, that is still enough time for the wheels to fall off.

I really though the wheels were going to fall of, because they were wobbling pretty damned hard after the loss at Koln. However, against Kaiserslautern Sanogo scored in the 3rd minute, K-town scored in the 8th, and the rest of the game was a snoozefest. Augsburg had 14 shots, 4 on target, and an xG of 1.27, while we parked the bus and eked out a draw on 17 fouls and 60% possession. We won’t talk about the 58th minute goal Sanogo was called offsides for. We can talk about the 700K the board had to pay into the club to keep it solvent, but that would just make me grind my teeth more, and the dentist has already put one kid thru college, I don’t want to pay for a second…

We lucked out with Bochum and Sandhausen. Bochum was just behind us in the table, and Sandhausen was just outside the relegation zone, and both teams were lackluster at best. Winning both of those games meant we were staying up, the draw at Hansa was a bit disappointing because they were in last place, and beating a former DFV team.

The game against Paderborn though, that was sweet, because not only did we finish the season on a high note, Paderborn ended up in 3rd place, and then lost to Hannover in the playoffs.

11 wins, 11 draws, 12 losses, a goal differential of -2. I don’t know that I could ask for a better season.

KSC asked me to interview, Hannover as well, but I turned them down. We had a youth intake, it was horrible, and finishing in 11th place meant we received €10.38M as a reward. It helped, but it still left us with almost 16M in debt.

Hands down, the unsung hero of the season was Max Weiß. He only had 6 Shutouts, but then he only allowed 47 in 34 games, and considering our defense was very much “Bend, but don’t break” all season, he saved more than a few shots that would have turned draws into losses. Sanogo had a solid season, 13 goals in 27 appearances, Suljic and Siebeck both had 7and I know we dodged a huge bullet. The problem is, an even bigger one is coming:

We aren’t going to be spending our transfer budget, that’s going to the payroll. I stayed above it the second half of the season, but not egregiously so, but as you can see, our payroll next year is already €2.4M, and our limit is €2.5M. The players are getting older, our best players are loan players who might not be able to come back. Yes, we survived, but as tough as this year was, next season is going to be even tougher.

It was dark out, but you couldn’t tell from the floodlights and noise. There was yelling, there was jackhammering, a crane moved a steel girder slowly but surely thru the night time sky, as men on top of the stand waited for it to come down.

“So, June?” asked Hermann.

“That’s what they are on track for,” replied Hans. They were standing in a small group on the other side of the street, watching as the welder’s lights blinked off an on.

“Hopefully we will have a starting XI when it opens,” Sasha said. Her mood had been sour the past week. Even after watching Paderborn lose out on promotion to Hannover.

“Coach can do it, I have faith,” Ulrich said. Everyone turned in the group looked at him. “Look, he got us to 11th this season. He can get us to 15th next season. I know he can.”

“If wishes and dreams…” Hans replied.

“Enough,” said Sasha. “If we want to have a cry, lets at least drown our tears with beer, come on. Tobias is buying.”

“I am?”

“You won 3300 Euros of our bet when the team scored more than 33 points. Of course you’re buying,” she snapped, turning away and walking in the general direction of the bar.

Hans looked at Tobias with a raised eyebrow, Hermann chuckled, and after a few moments Tobias sighed and started following after Sasha.

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Third Season, Part Two

Wenn Sie zwischen einem Felsen und einem harten Ort sind, gehen Sie auf die andere Seite des Felsens.

“We have been well and truly Rogered.”

Everyone sat up a little bit straighter when Coach said that.

“One hell of a way to start a meeting.” Andreas turned around to find the offending player, and was rewarded with a bunch of blank stares.

Coach had paused when he saw Andreas turn around, and he frowned.

“All right, no bullshitting then,” he said, running his hands thru his hair. “We are 200-1 odds to stay up. Everyone, and I mean everyone, thinks we are going back down to 3. Liga. Not that they ever expected us to get out of the RegionalLiga, or promoted like we did last year. They could be right. I however, am an optimist, and I think we can stay up, even if it means flirting with the relegation zone most of the season…” There were a few grumbles, and Coach paused until they died down, then he chewed on his bottom lip for a few seconds.

“We’re 26 million Euros in the red. The DFL is already looking at us. It’s highly possible that at some point in time they are going to come to the club, take a look at the books, and do one of two things. One is that they will tell us to shed payroll. The second is they are going to put the club into administration, shed payroll, and dock us points, and then your all down in the 3. Liga or lower next year, maybe back on part time contracts. If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, then find your way to the door. I have no use for you, this team has no use for you.”

Silence greeted him, and more than a few stares.

“I mean it, go. Take your me first attitude on out, and I’ll terminate your contract with BFC no questions asked.”

The players stared back at him.

“Then listen up. We are going to practice effectively. We are going to play as best we can. I do not care if we draw every game we play, as long as we end the season on 33 points or better, we stay up. That is the goal, 33 points. That means we fight, we scrap, we work hard, we make them earn it. We will not roll over for anyone. That means playing as a team. Because if we don’t, you all are going back down. Back to 3.Liga, or lower. You give me a hundred percent on the field, I will do my best to do right by you all.”

“Is it true?” a voice in the back asked. Coach looked up, and saw that Daryl had asked the question.

“Is what true?”

“That you turned down five job offers this offseason?”

Coach smiled. “It’s not true,” he said after a few moments. “I didn’t turn down five job offers.”

There was some rumbling from the assembly.

“I turned down eight.”

The rumbling stopped. Nikki smiled tightly.

“That’s how much I believe in this club, and what it’s trying to achieve. And despite the…self inflicted wounds….I still believe in that vision. But believe me when I say that if you don’t share that vision, you are out the door.”

Is all the hard work worth it?

There were times in the offseason when I literally had to get up and walk away from the game. It was either that, or I would break something, and I can sneak a keyboard past Household 6, and maybe one monitor, but multiple of both? No, better to walk away and read a book for a bit.

I think I must have made around 100 inquiries. You are a team with a young player on loan and you want to get him playing time? Send him to Berlin…err, Cottbus. We’re in Cottbus this year. The number of teams who wanted me to pay 50% of their salary or more was ridiculous. The number of teams that turned me down bewause they wanted the player to play with better players was also high. When the season kicked off, we had made four moves. Well, five actually.

Malick Sanogo hates Important matches. He has a bit of an injury history. He’s also pretty quick, agile, a decent passer with good ball control skills, and he’s a good finisher as well. And he’s better than any other striker we have on the squad, at least from an attributes point of view. Most importantly, we aren’t paying any of his salary. Union Berlin wants him to get playing time. He’s going to get it.

Serkan Polat has had an interesting journey. He started out in Zurich, got some playing time on the U21’s, then ended up moving to Pazarspor, a team in the Turkish 2. League. He was underwhleming in two years as a starter, in 62 matches over 2 years he allowed 84 goals, had 13 shutouts, 2 POM’s and an 9.64 average. Was he the best available Free Agent keeper out there? Hell no. He’s an avergae keep willing to be a back up on a salary friendly contract. Beggers can’t be choosers. He’s not our starter, but I think he’s a viable short term solution.

Federico Crescenti‘s problem isn’t that he passes the eye test for a capable Bundesliga 2 striker. The problem is his passing grade is a C+. At 20 year’s old, he’s 2 1/2 star current, 4 star potential, but the more I look at him, the more I believe that where he is now and what his full potential is is a very short trip. Reasonably fast and agile, he’s average everywhere else. He is capable of playing all of my top 3 attacking positions though, which makes him a valuable off the bench player and rotational starter. I’m not expecting great things from him, and I suspect we won’t be dissapointed.

Niilo Mäenpää is a Finnish international who brings stability and experience to the midfield. A better than average player, he actually took less money to come to us. I think that’s because the other teams looking at him were all second division clubs in Finland, Swede, and Poland, and maybe he thinks playing for Dynamo will get him a job at a bigger club down the road. I am OK with that. If Dynamo turns into a stepping stone club, that’s fine, I can work with that.

Last, but certainly not least, I lucked out. Karlsruher FC was so happy with the amount of playing time and the performances Max Weiß had last year, they allowed us to extend his loan for this season. I knew going into last season he was a better than 3. Liga keeper, the question is how good a keeper can he be in the Bundesliga 2. How well we do this season depends a lot on his performances, and he knows it.

The bar was quieter than usual, they themselves were more subdued as well.

“So,” Hans asked. “What are we thinking?”

“Relegation,” sigh Ulrich, who then finished his beer, then sat back looking at the empty glass.

“Relegation battle,” sighed Sasha. When word came out about the stadium expansion, and the financial risks it involved, she about lost her mind, and subjected the group to a few hours of financial management.

“I agree,” said Hans.

“Lower table, no relegation,” Tobias said. Sasha looked at him with half closed eyes.

“You,” she said, moving a stray strand of hair out of the way as she reached for her mug, “are taking this piss.”

“You think so?” Tobias asked. She nodded. In response, Tobias pulled out his wallet, took out a bill and put it on the table. The crisp 100 Euro note looked very out of place.

“That’s how serious I am about it. How serious are you all?” he asked. A few seconds later they were digging into their own wallets as well.

“Gib niemals auf, denn das ist genau der Ort und die Zeit, wo sich das Blatt wenden wird.” Harriet Beecher Stowe.

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

Not winning sucks. Being in debt sucks. Not being able to sign the players you need to sign to help the squad out sucks.

But, at the end of the day, when all your holding is a pair of fives, you play them like you’ve drawn to the inside straight and bluff as best as you can. The goals was to be out of the relegation spots at the midpoint. Maybe by then we might be able to bring in another loanee or two to help the squad out.

This looks like a bad run of games. No wins until our fifth match of the season. September was a good month, 7 points in 4 games is a very good accomplishment, and beating Kaiserslautern and Augsburg back to back was easily the high point of the season. I was immensely proud of where we were at this point, because if you look closely, all the games we had lost by this point, were losses by 1 goal.

Sonogo scoring in the 88th minute against Nurnberg is perhaps the one game we should have lost, but the fact we weren’t getting blown out was good. We weren’t scoring a ton of goals, and to be frank we aren’t going to this season, but our defense has really stepped up.

And I didn’t do anything to the formation really. I am still playing the ‘Swiss Bolt’ 4-2-4. The only things I have done have been in game, to lower the line on occasion, mark a specific player, things like that. No wholesale changes or anything like that. I think having a squad who’s very familiar with the formation, and not asking them to do something they are not capable of (Like gegenpressing a full 90 minutes) has gone a long way to where we are right now.

Heading into December, and then the winter break, I was quite happy. We were at 20 points, which at that point in time was midtable. I was expecting a fall off after winter, and although I was doing a ton of scouting within Germany, I think my scouts walk around with a bag of Dramamine hooked up to there arm, and had some good opportunities.

Our first loss by more than 12 goal was against Bielefeld, but I don’t count it because they scored in the 94th minute to make that happen. Same thing with Paderborn, they scored in the 96th minute, but up until those two games, we were doing well. Everyone was happy with how things were going:

Then, the week of the Hansa Rostock game, the hammer fell.

We have to cut €1.1M p/a off our payroll. And if we don’t, well, the next steps aren’t pretty. So, there are some hard choices to be made…

“You wanted to see me coach?” Andreas Pollasch asked.

“Yeah, come on in, shut the door behind you.” Andreas paused for a moment, and then his facial expression went neutral, then He came in and sat down.

“I’m not going to bullshit you here Andreas. I’ve got to cut 22K per week from the payroll. And I’ve got to do it in such a way that it doesn’t hurt the team too much in the short term.” Nikki was trying to be stoic as he talked, and was mostly succeeding. Mostly.

“I’ve made a couple of calls, Patrick Glöckner would love to have you on his squad.”

“So, Oberhausen again?” Andreas said quietly after a moment. “RegionalLiga…”

“I can ask around, your agent can ask around, you can ask around. We can’t mutually terminate your contract, the board can’t allow it. Something by the end of the transfer window has to be done.

Andreas gave a sort of half smile. “Your day is already full coach.”

“I’m sorry,” Nikki said, and he did look sorry.

“I know coach. I don’t envy you.”

They both stood. “I am not trying to sound trite here, so believe me when I say that if you need anything in the future, let me know, I’ll do what I can,” Nikki said, holding his hand out. Andreas shook it once, nodded, then turned around and left, shutting the door behind him.

“Way to go Nikki,” he said, talking to himself. “You just told your Team Captain you’re selling him off back to a team in the RegionalLiga 2 weeks before Christmas….”

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Third Season, Part One

Was in der weiten Welt des Sports ist hier los?

Hannah screamed, and so did Julia. The pounding on the door was loud, it sounded like someone was taking a sledgehammer to it.

“Stay here,” he said, looking at them. He approached the front door warily, took a deep breathe and opened it.

“Did you know about this?” Coach Schmidt was young, but he was angry.

Klaus shook his head. “He told us nothing. It was a surprise to all of us. If we had know about it beforehand rest assured the supporters club would have protested.”

“And now?”

“It’s done. The paperwork has already been signed.”

Coach looked ready to curse, hands going to his head and inhaling deeply, the he held that breath, shut his eyes, and counted silently. After about ten seconds, he opened his eyes again.

“We have a good relationship, that is the Supporters Club and the staff, yes?”

“Of course Coach, you’ve done an incredible job, we couldn’t be happier, back to back promotions? You’re a hero. You aren’t to blame for what happened, we all know that.”

“Then one day, in the future, I am going to call in a favor.”

The door to the General Managers office flew open so hard, so fast, it almost came off it’s hinges. Behind Coach Schmidt his secretary stood, scared out of her wits.

“When I signed my contract, I was assured that this was a partnership, that we were partners. Did you lie to me, Robert?”

Chairman Ammerbach swallowed, and stood up.

“If you’ll let me explain-“

“Explain what Robert? Explain why you thought the best time to do this would be when I was away and not answering my phones or emails for a week? “

“Coach, Nicholas-” Robert stopped when Nicholas held up his hand.

“We are not friends Chairman. You will address me as Coach, I will address you as Chairman, and when the cameras are on, we are on the same team. But if you think for a minute I am going to forget what you have done with this announcement-“

“It’s a new Stadium-“

“It’s 26 MILLION EUROS of debt we cannot take on right now. You put in almost 500K of your own money last season just to keep everybody’s bank accounts in the good. Now we are in 2 Bundesliga with a team that would have a hard time getting out of the Regionalliga. We have been lucky! I have been able to make bricks with just dirt and straw, and now you saddle us with this? The difficult I can do, the impossible? Just what do you think will happen?”


“Who’s going to sign for us? I need to put together a squad that will keep up up, and I am already against the payroll, and no one worth their salt is going to want to come here because they think we’re going back down.”

“We needed a stadium-“

“We could have rented, like we are doing now. I know Hohenschonhausen doesn’t meet the Bundesliga 2 requirements, but instead of just renting this year, now we are renting, and paying out a loan fee.”

“We’ve needed a new stadium for awhile, you know that, it’s been one on e the Supporters Club’s biggest complaints for years now-“

“Which is why you hid this from them, eh?” Schmidt took a step forward, and Ammerbach stepped back, until he hit his desk, and swallowed.

“It was now or never, Coach.”

Schmidt looked at him, and then shook his head.

“We have a vision for this club. We have a plan, we have goals. We talked about this before I even signed. Assurances were made, on both sides. At no time was a new stadium ever mentioned. I would have told you then what I am telling you now, the club is in no financial position to undertake such a thing, and yet, you did. I don’t know how, I don’t know which bank or other institutions agreed to loan you the money, and I know the only thing of value you could have put up as collateral was the club itself, but that’s not my concern anymore.” Coach Schmidt stopped talking, then pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I am going to do everything I can to keep this club up. You will back me 110%, because if you do not, this club goes into administration, and if that happens, you will lose everything. But that means everyone is going to be keeping an eye on you as well Chairman.”

“You’ll lose it all too Coach,” the Chairman said.

Nikki held up a hand, all five fingers extended.

“Hannover.” Down went thumb.
“Hamburg.” Down went the forefinger.
“Kaiserslautern.” Down went the pinky.
“FK Austria Vienna.” Down went the ring finger.
“Sparta Rotterdam.” Coach turned his hand around, and showed the Chairman his remaining finger.

“I will have plenty of options available to me. I just took a team with next to no resources to back to back promotions, and those are just the interview requests I’ve turned down this year. I’ve made a splash, and I am confident that I can go to any of those clubs and succeed. But-” he inhaled deeply.

“I made a promise. The only person who can get me to break that promise is you, so you know what’s going to happen now?” Nicholas had stepped forward, invaded the chairman’s personal space, and after given the appearance of brushing lint of his jacket, grabbed him by the lapels.

“We are going to be a United front. But that means no more parties, no more new cars, now more jetting off to Marbella to have a nice weekend with the mistress. We are not going to fail on the field if I have anything to say about it. But when we stay up, when we get our League money and television revenues, if we somehow manage to avoid relegation and administration, when I come to you and say “We need new training facilities, I need another scout, the U19 team could use another coach, you are going to smile, nod, and write me a check. Do. You. Understand?”

Coach’s voice had gone so quiet near the end. the Chairman had a hard time hearing him. But the look in coaches eyes had him nodding quickly.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I knew our stadium was old, falling apart, and needed an upgrade. I also knew getting promoted meant we’d be renting a stadium until we had our finances sorted out. The season ended with BFC getting promoted, we had the team meeting, and then this comes across the inbox:

It has been a long term objective of the club to get a new stadium built, but now? 32M Euro’s we don’t have to build a 15K seat stadium, while renting a stadium in Cottbus…our net debt jumped to 42.2M Euro’s

Then, not even two weeks later, comes this bit of delightful news:

Ammacher is lucky he is a Newgen.

We’re in Bundesliga 2 now. Armenia Bielefeld, 1. FC Koln, Kaiserslautern, Nurnberg, Regensburg, and other teams that are not only bigger than us, but financially more stable. Hell, even Ingolstadt and Hansa Rostock have better finances than we do, and they’re tipped to be relegated as well.

This save just got infinitely harder.

And if I am being honest, a lot more fun.

Let the rollercoaster ride continue!

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Second Season, Part Three

Nun, das ist passiert

Suljić’s goal took the like out of Weiche. They played what can only be called “lackluster” football the rest of the game, and Ogbaidze’s goal in the 91st minute was the final nail.


Back to Back Promotions.

Winning the Berliner Landepokal again was lost in the excitement and joy of beating everyone’s odd’s and expectations for the season, including my own.

Well, Scheisse.

I was not prepared for this, I was not expecting this. I am certainly not upset, but it just made the next season harder.

There were two types of being drunk. One was the happy drunk, celebrating to your hearts content, lving it up with friends, family, and strangers.

The other type of drunk was the one where you were sitting on the floor next to the commode thanking it for being cold.

The line between the two was often blurry.

“I don’t mean to sound sexist,” Tobias said, watching as Sasha sat down against the wall, holding her head, “But we need to get another woman in the group.”
“Why?” Hans asked, handing Sasha a glass of water. She thanked him weakly and took a sip, then a couple of seconds later lurched back to the toilet. Tobias leapt forward as well.

“Because,” he replied, looking over his shoulder as he crouched down behind her, “I’m getting tired of holding her hair everytime she gets this way.”

“Have I told you how much I love you guys,” Sasha said, flushing the toilet and then standing up on shaky feet. Eventually her hand found Tobias’s arm, and she held onto it tightly.

“Yes, but not as much as you love the club, right?” Hans said. As Tobias moved away, Sasha on his arm, he checked to make sure there wasn’t a mess on the floor, then followed them out. The bar wasn’t nearly as packed as it had been, but it was still crowded. Sasha was jostled hard enough a couple of times Hans thought for sure she was going to throw up over Tobias, but she held it together.

“I need a drink,” she said.

“You need food, Hans replied, grabbing her coat and her clutch. “Come one, down the street, I’ll buy you something there.”

“In a few, in a few,” Sasha said. “I want to sit her for a minute.” Hans sighed and sat down, Tobias had already moved to his own chair, the others were up and mingling with the crowd.

“I just may name my first born Shalva,” Sasha said.

“How many names is this kid going to have?” replied Tobias. “Nicholas Andreas Damion Shalva-” he stopped talking to dodge the pretzels thrown in his direction.

“Keep that up and I’m not holding your hair again the rest of the night,” he said.

The initial budgets weren’t too bad. I see a lot of loans in our future. We’re going to fight like hell to stay up next season, but I would not be surprised if we ran into a relegation battle.

The fans were ecstatic, the board was happy, I was happy, I had some very good players turn in some very good performances, some of which I was not expecting:

Max Weiß:

No Max Weiß, no promotion. It’s as easy as that. The loan player from Karlsruher FC was easily the best keeper in the league, with 27 goals allowed in 36 appearances, 14 Shutouts, a 7.24 rating, a 4 Player’s of the Match awards. Your keeper usually gets a PoM when he “plays out of his boots”, stops an incredible number of shots and makes some incredible saves. Getting 1 in a season is hard enough, but getting 4?

Alexander Siebeck:

He lost a step over the course of the season, but his contributions to the club as a whole cannot be denied. Usually playing the midfielder role, his accurate passes and decision making were critical to the team. The question now is the next level going to be beyond his capabilities?

Joey Breitfeld:

He wasn’t a scoring threat, he was more of a facilitator than anything else, and it was his ability to push forward and draw the double team from the opposing side that let other players exploit the holes he created. Players like Breitfeld are often unnoticed and underappreciated by many, because they don’t score a a lot of goals, or assist in a lot of them either, but with out players like him on your squad, it’s going nowhere fast.

Chris Reher:

Every squad has a defensive rock, this season Chris Dreher was ours. I had the wrong analytics chosen when I took the screenshot, because defensively, he was top notch, and offensively he was very productive, and made few mistakes, and he did a solid job of occupying and frustrating the attacking side. Was he beaten from time to time: Of course, but over the totality of the season, easily our best D(C).

Marvin Kleihs:

Marvin is never going to be a goal scorer. What his is though is a quick agile wingback who is capable on the defense and a decent passer, and working hand in glove with Breitfeld, gave the opposing teams fits. Creatively speaking, he was the best WB(R) in 3.Liga.

Justin Janitzek:

Easily the best overall defender we had this season, out loan player from Bayern was everything I wanted him to be, and more. Safe to say he was a “Boy amongst men” this season, starting almost every single game for us and easily finishing as one of the 3. Liga’s best defenders. He didn’t score from set pieces though, and while that’s worrying, the bigger problem is that I may not be able to get him back next season, he did such a good job for us other teams are already trying to get his services for next year.

Amar Suljić:

I have mixed feelings about Amar. His attributes tell me he should be a very good on the cusp of great player at the 3. Liga level. 14 goals and 1 assist in 25(4) games isn’t topo bad, but I will admit my judgment is clouded by the fact he missed quite a few games due to injury. Were my expectations of him too high? Maybe, but I know I was frustrated enough with his lack of performance on the field I brought in help in the January window.

Darryl Geurts:

Until injured he was having the best all around season on the squad. A versatile player that is quite useful for a team like us at the lower levels, he was a very good player on the field for us. Teams were looking at him at the end of the season, and keeping him is going to be a tough choice.

Tim Meyer, Andreas Hirtlreiter, Shalva Ogbaidze :

Tim Meyer got more starts than I had originally intended, and he did not disappoint. Tall and lanky for a wingback, he gave smaller player’s fits, and was very good started the teams offensive movement up the field.

Andreas Hirtlreiter I had wanted to be a “Jack of All Trades”, and it turned out he was a “Master of None”. He started the season next to Suljić up top, but was constantly flummoxed by opposing defenders. When I moved him back to AM(R), the drop off between him and Geurts was noticeable. At the end of the day, he was a roleplayer and came of the bench, and that was a role that suited me more than him. You need a few of these players on your roster, because when you don’t have them that’s when you will need them the most. In the back of my mind though, I am thinking if he wasn’t good enough at the 3. Liga level, can he compete at the next level? Is that something I am willing to find out?

Shalva is one of those players who’s just good enough to make you believe he’s capable of doing more. And maybe he is, but somehow I don’t think if he had 34(0) instead of 17(17), he would not have 18 goals and 6 assists. He’s a solid player, but when you aren’t looking for a solid player…

Andreas Pollasch, Phillip Schulz:

The 4-2-4 I play requires two good players in the midfield, as they are the pivots going forward and backwards. Alexander Siebeck had a lock on the DLP role, Andreas and Phillip rotated thruout the season, and they did a very capable job. Andreas was one of the best defending midfielders in the 3. Liga this season, and Schulz was one of the most creative going forward with the ball.

Mihailo Ivanović, Damion Downs:

At the winter break, we were sitting near the top of the league. While I was unsure of being promoted, I knew we wouldn’t make the playoffs unless we strengthened our attack up top. I needed a supporting Forward who could do a credible job of occupying a defender or two, and an attacking forward who could take advantage of the opportunities created for him. Mihailo filled the TF/DLF role quite well, and Damion showed me what he could do in half a season I am going to try and get him on loan next year to see if he can replicate it in the next level. I did a fair amount of scouting and research before bringing these two in, and they weren’t my first choices, but sometimes everything aligns and it all works out. And it did so here.

I cannot be happier with how the season went. I wasn’t thinking we would get promoted until the very end, and even then I kept doublechecking to make sure.

2. Bundesliga, here we come.

“Nikki, it’s Jakob Mueller. Call me as soon as you get this message, day or night.”

“Nikki, it’s Jakob. Call me soonest.”

“Nikki, call me, please, its urgent.”

“Niiki, it’s Jakob, there’s been a decision made, I can’t stop it. I’ve tried, but they are going to do it anyways. You need to get back to Berlin now.”

“Nikki, there’s no time left. 24 hours, tops. Where are you?”

Der Bär Wird Wieder Brüllen, The Second Season, Part Two

Unsere Berichterstattung übertreffen

The season started of well, you beat a team like Magdeburg like that in their own home, you try not to get to excited, and the fact we lost by one to Dynamo Dresden (das Schweine) was a quick dose of reality. Beating 1. FC Köln in the Pokal, in extra time, was more luck than coaching, as much as it pains me to write that, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?

I’d like to think if we hadn’t gone a man down against BMG II in the 32 minute, we would have held them to a draw, which is what we did against the BVB II squad about 4 weeks later. The one piece of not so great news was that Suljić twisted his ankle badly right before the FC Viktoria Köln game, he was going to be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks, which meant Hirtlreiter was my primary striker for the time being. I wasn’t to enamored with my depth at Advanced Midfielder to mover either Geurts or Ogbaidze up, in fact the first few times I played Ogbaidze he didn’t exactly light the world on fire. So I dropped to a 4-3-3 system because it was the next best formation I could put a player in and have them do a respectable to good job.

We won 2 and drew 1, and I thought we were doing well, but back to back losses against Verl and Freiburg were frustrating. Suljić announced his return from injury with a hat trciks worth of goals against TSV 1860 München, and I thought the formation was working, why mess with a good thing? Oldenburg was a match we dominated in almost every statistical category, but it took a 79th minute goal to win. Bochum was in the Relegation Zone when we played them in the Pokal, but they had more than enough to send us out of the tournament, mostly because injuries and fatigue forced me to play a squad that wasn’t my strongest up top.

November and December were decent months, the two losses we had we both on goals after the 75th minute, and while we were doing well from a statistical point of view, we were failing in the one area it counted: Scoring.

The bar was a bit quieter, most of the supporters had already left, excerpt for the usual crowd in the back. While it was the Christmas season, it didn’t go all out with the decorations, there was a small tree on the corner of the bartop, and someone had strung some lights, and that was about it.

“We need another attacker,” said Ulrich.

“Two would be better,” replied Hans.

“You think Bayern would send us Copado? Or Demircan?” asked Hans.

Tobias shook his head. “Probably not. They’ll pull the ‘We want them to play with better quality player team mates.'”

Sasha snorted, then sighed. “You have to admit, they are doing good this season. There’s a decent chance we won’t get relegated.”

“I would be quite OK with that,” replied Fritz.

“How many fans you think are going to ask Santa to help keep the team up this year?” Sasha asked after finishing her beer.

“I’m not,” Hans said. Everyone looked at him with varying degrees of shock or surprise.

“I am going to ask him for the same thing I have asked him for the past ten years: The opportunity to be Santa for a day.”

“Christmas Day?” Fritz asked.

“Maybe?” Hans said.

“Why?” Tobias asked. He had a look on his face that conveyed more than a little confusion and wariness, as if he was afraid of asking the question for fear of getting an answer.”

“Look at this logically,” Hans said, sitting back and smiling. “One: He only works one day a year. Two: He has a workforce that does most of the heavy lifting for him, pun intended. Three, he’s loved all over the world. But that’s not the best part.” The table was silent, until Ulrich finally sighed and asked.

“What’s the best part about being Santa?”

“Are you kidding me?” replied Hans with feigned shock on his face. He smiled and took a drink of his beer, aware the table was watching him.

“Santa has a list of where all the naughty women live. What young man wouldn’t want that information?”

The twinkle in his eyes lasted for just a few brief seconds, Sasha had leapt out of her seat and started to chase him around the bar while he ran away trying not to spill his beer.

Treten auf den Boden rennen

I spent almost all of January looking for some help up top, and one of three things happened when I made an offer to a club for a player:

  1. The club didn’t want to loan him to us for “reasons”
  2. The club accepted our inquiry, then wanted some very outrageous fees in addition to some salary demands agrred to before even considering accepting the offer
  3. We f found a player whose club wasn’t demanding a Kings Ransom for the player, and they player turned the loan offer down.

Finally, right near deadline day, we found a couple of players who I think are going to help us out:

Mihailo Ivanović didn’t cost me anything. I promised Vojvodina he could have all the first team playing time he wanted, and they said “Sure.” But to be honest until he agreed to come I was a bit wary of it ever happening. He doesn’t have any real weaknesses in his attributes, and at only 19 years old I suspect by the times he’s 23 he will be quite a bit better in some area’s, but for the level of football we are playing at right now, he’s at least as good as most of the strikers we will be facing, and that’s all I can ask for.

Damion Downs comes to us from 1. FC Köln, and while I like his Ball Control, Movement, and Physicals, I’d be lying if I said his Positioning, Bravery, and Vision weren’t a bit troubling. But at 6′ 4″, I am expecting him to dominate many a smaller DC, receive a pass/cross and put it away. He’s also here on a ‘free’ loan.

On the out’s not a lot of activity, Dominic Duncan went to El Paso for a small sum of money, Robin Fuhrman and Erlind Zogjani both went out on loan. Those two I could have kept at the club, but they needed more consistent playing time, and they weren’t going to get that here.

Ein Neuanfang im neuen Jahr

As you can see, January was OK, because I (and other coach out there) will definitely take draws over losses.

With the transfer window closed and everyone registered, it was apparent that while Ivanović and Downs were not World Beater’s, they were definitely game changers, and that’s what we needed.

Ivanović in particular had the ability to pull at least one, and in some case more, defenders out of position to cover him, leaving whomever he was teamed up with that day up top to try and exploit the gap. While the number of goals we scored wasn’t increasing, our overall shots and shots on target were, with the rare exception that we laid the proverbial egg against the opposing team, like against Furth.

When the whistle blew at Mannheim, we were undefeated since the year began. 11 Wins, 7 Draws, no losses. We were challenging for promotion.

I have no idea how.

I don’t tinker, I don’t “experiment”, I set the formation, set the roster, click start game, and I’ll make some in game adjustments, but that’s it. Maybe change a PI every now and then to take care of an opening, but we were doing great on the pitch. I didn’t want to touch anything and jinx it.

But there were some behind the scenes things happening that gave me pause:

I’ve cut scouting to the bare minimum. I didn’t even do my usual January Scouting boost, where you go big/bigger for the month to get a larger pool of who might be available in six months time.

I’ve turned down the creation of the Dynamo II squad. And yet we’re still losing money, to loan payments.

We had our Youth Intake, and it was…middling:

Die Bank des Haufens

Fuchs is…intriguing. Where he’s lacking he’s really lacking, but where he’s good he’s above average. If his position, strength, balance and vision get anywhere near double digits while the other area’s improve as well, he won’t be a full time starter, but could be a solid contributor.

Simões has the potential to be better than Fuchs, I think he will be, it’s just a matter of what attributes improve the most, and which stay the same. It’s one of the frustrating things to see when you get a good youth player with potential, and after five years of training and games his Balance goes from 4 to 7…I don’t think Simões is in that boat, but…

For every good attribute Najem has, there are two bad ones. I think in a perfect world he could be a very good DLP type of player. But with so many low attributes, it’s hard to see him ever getting a start for the club.

It’s May, last month of the season. We’ve made it to the Berliner Landspokal again, and we play Weiche, Rott Weiss Essen, and Offenbach. The best we can finish is 2nd place, but BMG II squad is in first, and they can’t get promoted. A Win or draw again Weiche and we win, a loss and we still have a chance, another loss after that and we could be looking at 3rd place.

This season has been a rollercoaster, and I would hate it if it all came off the rails at the end…

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” Sasha said, looking around. “A 12000 seat stadium, and we can’t get 1500 people here, and we could be promoted?”

“I can’t explain it either,” Hans said. “As active as the forums have been, the supporters club and all of that, you think there would be more.”

“Well, that just means we will have to yell louder, right?” Sasha said, checking her face paint in her makeup mirror once more before putting it back in her clutch. Then she she stuck her fingers in her mouth and whistled, loud and long. “LETS GO DYNAMO!” she yelled when she was done.

“Sasha!” Ulrich said, putting a finger in his ear and wiggling it theatrically. “It’s a half hour before kickoff.”


“Pace yourself,” Ulrich replied.

Sasha looked ready to argue, but Ulrich’s raised eyebrow stopped her short.

“Fine,” she said “But when we win first round is on you.”