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.

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