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.”
“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.
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.
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:
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?
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?”
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:
The club didn’t want to loan him to us for “reasons”
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
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.”
“Das Schwierige, was ich jetzt tun kann, das Unmögliche wird sieben bis zehn Werktage dauern…”
Jakob Mueller was tired, and it showed as he walked out of his office, slouched, briefcase hanging haphazardly from his hand, jacket over one shoulder and the knot in his tie down to the second button on his shirt. The board was expecting some sort of miracle, and he had to provide one, legally of course, but the job was proving to be tougher than he thought. Not that he didn’t like a challenge, but at the end of the day, 1+1 still had to equal 2 at some point.
“Jakob!” he heard a voice call out. He turned around, and saw a door open.
“Coach?” he asked. “What are you still doing here?”
“Scouting reports to look over, analysts reports to look over, contracts to look over…I am seeing numbers and charts when I close my eyes, I am not sure that’s a good thing.”
Jakob smiled slightly when Coach finished talking. He liked Nicholas, he was young, but he was very upfront in what he didn’t know, and was willing to listen to you until you showed you had no idea what you were doing. That one Recruitment Analyst lasted all of a week before being shown the door.
“How are Elise and the kids?” Coach asked.
“Missing their Papa, but that is not unusual this time of the year. How is the team looking?”
Coach shrugged. “Losing to Dynamo after thrashing Magdeburg was a gut punch, I am not going to lie. Facing Koln in the First round of the Pokal is a tough ask, but I am optimistic. Not because I have to be, but because I want to be. We have a good chance of staying up I think. I know the guys will fight like hell to stay up. How are things on the financial side?”
“Tight. But if we are careful, we’ll scrape by.”
“Actually I was hoping to talk to you about that,” Coach said.
“The travel budget is maxed out, Coach,” Jakob sighed. “I am out of apostles to rob for you.”
Coach stopped short, then smiled. “My mother used to say that from time to time when things were tight. What if I said I can get us another hundred thousand euros a year for the next few years?”
Jakob stopped slouching, then heard a beeping noise. Coach looked at his wrist and hit a button. “Ach, I didn’t realize it was this late. Elise finds out I kept you here, she’ll thump me at the next Family Day.” You didn’t realize how young Coach Schmidt was until he smiled.
“Come on, I’ll walk you to the door and tell you on the way,”
A few minutes later Jakob was standing in shock, trying to process what Coach had told him. They had walked outside, and Jakob had turned towards the parking lot.
“So the rumors are true,” he said, and Coach nodded in reply.
“It’s either that, or we start robbing banks,” Coach said.
“Well…”Jakob said, and Coach looked at him with an arched eyebrow.
“There some things we can do on the accounting side, but they aren’t things you want to keep doing. At some point you do run out of apostles, and then you’re looking at doing something criminally stupid, or stupidly criminal.”
“Not on our watch, yeah?” Coach replied with a smile, and then Jakobs phone rang.
Sighing as he looked at the screen, the accountant answered it.
“Yes Honey. At the offices still. Yes I know how late-” He stopped talking, because coach had taken the phone out of his hands.
“Frau Mueller, it Coach Schmidt. I am doing well, thanks. Listen, Jakob is here because I kept him here, and I want to apologize for that, I asked him to go thru some financials with me and I lost track of time.” He paused to listen for a moment.
“Well, thats because I don;t have a wife half as good as you at home to help-” He paused for a moment and looked at Jakob. “Your second cousin, eh? Well, tempting though it is I am married to my job to much at the moment to inflict my sort of lifestlye on someone who deserves more.” He smiled, then laughed, and walked back over to Jakob.
“He’s getting in the car right now, I promise. Tell Lukas and Markus I am sorry for keeping their Papa so late, and I will make it up to them the next Family Day, OK? Bye now.” Hanging up, he put the phone back into Jakob’s shirt pocket.
“We’ll talk more tomorrow. Go home to your family,” He said with a smile.
“Sure. Make sure you tell Elsa about this, she finds out last-“
“Ja, Ja, hell to pay, I know, I know. Home Jakob.’ Coach made a shooing motion with his hands, and went back inside. Jakob stared at his retreating back for a minute, then turned and began his walk to the car park.
The club finances weren’t the best when I took over. Promotion, while unexpected, means a stronger league, better money, and I think a couple of years in the 3. Liga could be good for us, let us build a foundation for future success, because right now, we don’t have the finances for it:
The 2.4 million Euro expenditure is the club putting in underground heating. Why they chose to do that, I am not sure, because they stadium we are in is on the wrong side of “Run Down” if I am being honest. I didn’t think we were going to be busy in the transfer market, because
Everybody going full time means our payroll is definitely going up, and we have to be careful who we pay for and what.
We are still a bit understaffed for my tastes, but at this point I am not going to complain. The people I have are OK< and if I am being honest, if I were to let them all go there’s no guarantee the people I could hire in their place would be any better for the same price.
We received €752K for TV rights, which helped out, frankly anything extra is nice at this point.
The 3. Liga rules are pretty straightforward:
The League prediction looks good for us as well:
Until you realize Borussia Dortmund II, BMG II and Freiburg II can’t be promoted, which means the teams below them can certainly be demoted, and that’s what the pundits think is going to happen to us this season. And Dynamo Dresden are the odds on favorites to get promoted…grrr.
The transfer window was pretty quiet. I did a lot of scouting, but more than one player who was willing to talk contracts had some outrageous demands. Why someone thinks I am going to pay €400K a year for their services in 3. Liga is a bit beyond me, but then again I just play FM…
Transfer wise, we did some good business I think. I was really looking to strengthen our defensive backs, and I think I did pretty well:
Max Weiß, Keeper
Kevin Sommer was a good Keeper for us last season, I can’t deny that. But if we want a fighting chance of staying up, of staying out of the relegation battle, we needed someone better. I spent a decent amount of time looking at Free Agent Keepers and the few I thought were good wanted to much money. The transfer listed Keeper’s I looked at either wanted too much money, or didn’t want to come to the club. The loan listed keepers I looked at, well, their teams wanted upwards of €150K a month in fee’s, and that’s before I paid 80% of their salary as well. Then I lucked out and found Weiß listed for loan from KSC. No monthly fee’s, I just had to cover part of his salary, and instantly upgraded our keeper position. He’s quite good for this level of football, and that what I am looking for.
Robin Fuhrmann, Tim Meyer, Tim Kircher, Defender’s
Depth and rotation, two things that are hard to come by in the lower leagues. One thing I am slowly resigning myself to is that at this point, having one good player backed up by several average player’s isn’t going to be an option everywhere, at this point I am working on having a couple of good above average players at some positions, players who I feel comfortable rotating knowing the drop off between them skills wise is minimal at best. Furhman is a good example of this, he has the most upside of the three I brought in, and is a solid player now, and with playing time and training will grow into a good player. At what position I have no idea at the moment, for now it’s D(C), but the fact he can play wingback on either side is a plus.
I’ve high hopes for Meyer. At 18 years old he’s already quite good for this level of football, and if his Off the Ball and Bravery improve, he can be very good. As it stands right now, his ball control, crossing, and passing and quickness make him the starting WB(L), but his lack of marking and composure could hurt us sometimes.
Kirchner is what I call a “Lunch Pail” type of player. He doesn’t excel in any one area, he’s average/above average in most others, and he doesn’t have a real weakness in his game. Sure, he has some low attributes, but nothing horrible. He has a job to do, he knows what it is, and he’s going to do it to the best of his ability, and not a lot more beyond that. I brought him in because he was on a free, he can play anywhere on the right (for the most part) and I don’t have to worry about him making too many mistakes when he is playing. I also know the chances of him doing something extraordinary or out of the blue are going to be rare as well, and sometimes that’s all your looking for.
Shalva Ogbaidze, Andreas Hirtlreiter, Attacking Midfielder’s
Geurts and Breitfeld are decent attacking mids, but I didn’t have a lot behind them, so I was looking to do what I could to shore this area up.
Hirtlreiter isn’t the strongest, nor the bravest, but he’s quick, agile, has above average off the ball and technique, and above average flair as well. I brought him on board because he can play AM(R) and ST, and M(C) in a pinch, and while I wouldn’t comfortable with him being a full time starter at any of those positions (a few areas would have to come up a bit for that) coming off the bench on a rotation basis to spell Breitfeld is a good fit for him.
Shalva Ogbaidze is a slightly older, slightly better version of Hirtlreiter, but will be coming of the bench and starting more at ST than anywhere else. Not the strongest, but with good quickness, agility, first touch, passing finishing and flair, he’s got enough to do a job up top.
Tobias had taken one look at the weather forecast and declared he wasn’t going to watch the team get beat in the rain, so they ended up at the bar with about a hundred other fans. The game itself had been a muddy, messy affair, and FC Köln’s quality was proven that as the extra time whistle blew, they could outrun the Dynamo attackers, but they couldn’t break the lower line of engagement and back four. Reher, Siebeck, Schulz and Pollasch had been above average defensively, but Weiß had the stadium, the fans at the bar, and Sasha in particular, gushing over his performance. Köln has pressed all game, 34 shots, 17 on target, but after Demorovic had scored in the 20th minutes, he had been an impenetrable wall. Covered in mud, he was clapping and yelling, directing the defense, who were listening well. The only person more animated than Weiß was Coach, who had been warned on more than one occasion to stay in his area, and had ventured out more than enough times for the ref to finally take him aside and threaten him with a Yellow. A smile and a clap on the referee’s shoulder, Schmidt had promised he would stay in the area, and did a pretty credible job.
The bar held it’s collective breath Sebastian Andersson stepped up to the spot, approached the ball and kicked it high and left. A short second later, the ball hit Weiß’s outstretched hand, and everyone was yelling and screaming. Siebeck stepped up to the ball, the clubs most reliable penalty taker, and struck it hard, almost in the exact same spot as Andersson had, but a bit higher. Jonas Urbig, all 188cm of him, got just enough of a hand on it to misdirect it, where it also went wide left. The crowd groaned, Tobias sighed loudly, Sasha said something about Siebecks mother before the beer Ulrich handed her got her to quiet down.
Demirovic’s shot went in, Zogjani equalized, and Eric Martel stepped up. He took his time, ran forward…and tapped the ball as softly as you pleased right down the middle, where a standing Weiß caught it neatly and looked at him, and expression that in no uncertain terms said “What the F**K was that?” The camera panned to Coach Jaissle, who was seen yelling something similar before the camera panned away. A couple of minutes later, Geurts stepped up and struck it hard left, Urbig guessed wrong, and the ball hit the back of the net.
Dynamo had just beaten Köln in the First Round of the DFB-Pokal.
A half hour later the bar was still celebrating, singing, laughing, and watching the highlights. The initial interviews had been formalities, Coach Schmidt congratulating his players for their efforts, most of all his keepers, who had been awarded Man of the Match for his efforts between the sticks. Some player interviews had followed, Siebeck thanking the rest of the squad for the team picking him up after his miss, and then the formal interview afterwards in the press room. Most of the interview was the usual banal stuff, the interesting bit of news came at the end.
“How far can the team go coach?”
“As far as they can. If it’s the next round, it’s the next round, if its the final its the final. No matter what happens I am proud of them, of their efforts on the field.”
“Coach, rumor has it you signed another player today, who couldn’t play in today’s game because of registration issues, can you talk about that?”
“Yes, I can, we have an agreement with FC Bayern, they have agreed to send Justin Janitzek to us on a loan until the end of the season. Once he clears the medical screening in Bayern, the remainder of the paperwork will be filed tonight, and Justin will arrive here tomorrow.”
“Our defense just got that much better!” Hans said, finishing his beer.
“He’s not bad,” said Tobias, looking at his own beer. For Tobias, that was high praise. The rest of the bar had started talking as well, loud enough that the reporters question had been missed.
“He’s not costing us anything,” Coach Schmidt said with a smile, “Because in addition to signing him this afternoon, we also signed an agreement to become a lower league affiliate for FC Bayern.”
“WHAT DID HE SAY!” Sasha yelled, loud enough that everyone in the bar who didn’t know her turned to look at her.
“He said they signed an agreement with Bayern to become an affiliate,” Tobias said.
“I heard that!” Sasha yelled back at him.
“Then why did you ask…never mind,” Tobias sighed again, and looked at his mug of beer.
“Bayern. We’re an affiliate for Bayern,” Sasha all but spat.
“Looks like it,” Ulrich replied.
“Could be worse,” Hans said, only to dodge out of the way when Sasha turned around on him.
“How?” she asked. Sasha hated Bayern with a passion. There was only one team she hated more in all of Germany.
“Could have been a Hertha affiliate…”
Sasha took a deep breath, as if she was preparing to argue, then sighed and nodded.
“Yeah, you aer right. Get us another beer please?”
Eine Kugel ausgewichen?
Janitzek is an instant upgrade for us at Defender, tall, above average in most every category that matters, I am really hoping he will add to an already strong part of the squad.
I know this season we aren’t going to be able to run and gun our way thru the league, there are too many quality teams we are competing against, but if we can stay close to a net positive goal differential, and draw some of the teams we are supposed to lose to, I’ll count a non relegation finish a success.
I am worried about the team financials though…
Next up, a look at the season, how we are handling scouting, and trying to build for the future.
“He said he wasn’t coming. The last time he came to a game because we convinced him to, we lost to Cottbus,” Joachim said. “He thinks if he’s here in person the team will lose again…”
“I have a hard time figuring him out,” Hans said to noone in particular.
“He’s weird. He’s not going to change,” Sasha said.
“Do you want him to change?”
“Will that mean he stops buying the occasional round?” she replied.
Sportforum Hohenschönhausen wasn’t all that full, maybe 4500 people, but the Bayern Fan Club had shown up in decent strength, 1500 boisterous fans at the other end of the stadium.
“What do you think?” Hans asked, leaning over to Ulrich.
“It’s like Coach said, If they give it their best, he’ll be happy with the result either way. They’re on a win streak, they’re playing well.”
A whistle was blown, and the teams headed off the field, to get ready for the game.
They were all hoarse. On Paper, and when compared one on one really, Bayern’s II squad was faster, more athletic, but if they were anything else, it was overconfident. Poor passes, bad decisions, the only thing loder than the fans at times seemed to be Coach Demichelis as he yelled and gestured at his player.
Amar Suljić’s goal in the 12th minute was a thing of beauty, as was the long pass that let him split the defenders and tap it in over the keeper, but the Wanner had scored for Bayern II two minutes apart in the 66th and 68th minutes. What enthusiasm the Dynamo fans had went flat, as Bayern sat back, invited the attack, and foiled every Dynamo attack.
“I can’t watch” Sasha moaned, burying her head in Ulrich’s arm. The game was well into extra time, with maybe a minute left. The team had given their all, but Bayern’s quality had come thru the last twenty minutes of the match, as every BFC Dynamo attack was frustrated.
Bayern chose that moment to try and put Dynamo on the backfoot, but a bad pass allowed Reher to get the ball, and after a few seconds of back and forth between Sommer and the defenders, Klump ended up with the ball. The roar of the crowd got louder, as Klump dropped the ball of to Ekailie, who then after a brief moment passed it to Schulz, who drove forward into two defenders. Pavlovic dispossessed him, and everyone started to groan when his short pass to Harold was intercepted by Klump, who flicked the ball backwards, turned around, and at the line lofted a ball towards Suljic, who was fighting to break thru two defenders…
They charged into the bar, cheering and chanting, happier with a draw than they had been in recent memory.
“That was amazing!” Ulrich said for what had to have been the hundredth time since they left the stadium.
“We know!” Sasha replied. “We were there too!”
“You think we have a chance?”
“Of winning? I like our chances now more than I did two hours ago…” said Hans.
Five days later, Stadion an der Grünwalder Straße was rocking. Literally, the stands were swaying back and forth under the Dynamo faithfuls feet as they screamed and cheered the entire match. Although outnumbered by the Bayern fans, a travesty Ulrich had mentioned enough times that Sasha had threatened him with violence if he didn’t shut up about it, they had given their all. Hans had yelled himself to near death apparently, the coughing fit he had after Suljić’s 19th minute goal came back after Zvonarenk had scored for Bayern three minutes later. A Beck goal right before the end of the half had sent the crowd into a frenzy.
All the Dynamo fans, and the announcers, were surprised when the team came out on the front foot. While not as aggressive pushing the ball up the field as they had been the first half, defensively speaking they were stepping up more, crowding the Bayern players more and forcing them to make mistakes. Bayern did have a couple of chances, but they were rushed, and the Dynamo defense was holding strong.
In the 84th minute, taking advantage of a misplay by a Bayern defender, the team surged forward, and a brilliant effort by Klump was denied by an even better effort from Schenk, who deflected the ball out of bounds. Gathering the ball up, Klump went to the corner as the rest of the squad sorted itself out, and after a few seconds, lofted the ball towards the back.
The only thing louder than the referee’s whistle was Sasha yelling “THAT’S A PENALTY, YOU AREN’T BLIND, CALL IT!”
Referee Michels pointed to the spot, the Bayern fans groaned…
To 3. Liga.
In our first season.
Well…crap. I wasn’t expecting this, but I wasn’t going to sabotage it either.
The board did what they could with regards to the wage bill and the transfer budget:
And while those numbers look OK, there’s this to take into consideration as well:
I am not going to say no to that, it just means I have to renegotiate all my players contracts, and since the ones I want to keep just won themselves promotion, it could be difficult to meet some of their wage demands.
Financially speaking, I think we did quite well, considering we were a Regionalliga team:
This pretty much says it all:
Beck and Suljic with 76 goals between them?
Geurts with 11 goals, 16 assists; Pollasch with 17 assists? I am pretty sure I could play this season over again 10 times and not get anywhere near those numbers
It was a really close competition in the League though as we almost played our way out of 1st Place:
But, our numbers more than speak for themselves:
The success of the season went the boards head as well, because they decided to spend some money I am not sure we have:
Which leaves our finances looking like this:
3. Liga awaits. We’re a pro Squad now, with not a lot of money, a smart bet would put us down as relegation candidates. Because of the finances this year I haven’t been able to scout like I have wanted to, and we may not have enough in next years budget to scout extensively either, which means we are going to have to get….creative with the scouting. And the accounting.
There was a polite knock on the door.
“Enter!” Nicholas called out, and a second later Frau Gerstner opened the door.
“Christian would like to speak with you?” she asked, her face telling him “No” would not be an appropriate answer.
“Of course,” he replied with a smile, and a few seconds later Beck stepped in, and sat in one of the chairs across from the desk.
“And how is my Northeast Player of the Year?” Nikki asked with a smile. Beck smiled in return, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“I’m retiring coach,” he said with a sigh. “I am going to make it official tomorrow, but I wanted to let you know in person.”
“Are you sure?”
“The mind is willing, but the body…” Beck gestured towards his legs. “Besides, I don’t think I will ever have a season close to what we had this last one, especially going up a level. And I would rather go on top as a player who scored 36 goals, won a Pokal and promotion, than a guy who spent the last seasons of his career on the bench in the 3.Liga. And I can’t go down to a lower level, there’s just no money in it. No, it’s time.”
Nikki nodded, sitting back in his chair.
“Plans for the future?” he asked.
“I’ve though about coaching,” Beck replied with a smile, which Nikki returned with a smile of his own, then stood up, and stuck his hand out.
“This is going to sound trite,” he said, as Beck stood and grasped his hand, “But it’s true. You’ve been a fabulous asset to the club. We would not be where we are today without the example you set on the field the past two seasons. You ever need a job, call me and I’ll help.”
“Thanks Coach.” A firm shake of the hand, a nod, and Beck turned and left the office, shutting the door behind him.
Wie weit können uns zwei 34-jährige Beine bringen?
I don’t know what it is with the saves I’ve picked this season. They have all been interesting teams, they have all been fun to play, but they all have one thing in common: The finances are…suboptimal. I knew this when I was looking at BFC Dynamo and it’s background, but stil:
If those are OK finances, then I’ll take it, because I’d hate to see the alternative.
This is something I think a lot of managers will overlook when they get to a club. They’ll look at the roster, look at the transfer budget, look at the coaching, and the “Mutually Terminate” the contract of every coach/scout/Manager/Director that doesn’t meet their standards.
Then, 1 of 3 things will happen when you go to hire new staff. The new staff members who are better than your old staff members aren’t going to sign with you because:
Your Club Reputation isn’t good enough, or
If you club reputation is good enough you can’t afford their salary
Which result in you spending 10 minutes terminating the contracts of everyone, then spending eight hours finding replacements who are no better than the ones you fired, and in some cases more expensive salary wise.
I had a bit of wiggle room. As a Semi-Pro team, I didn’t need a huge scouting budget, in fact, I took it to the league only level. My Chief Scout is going to look at the next opponent, and I’ll hire another scout to look at those player who crop up in the market.
We are also up against it with the team payroll, and with no transfer budget, the only way we are lowering that is selling players, and unfortunately the Regionalliga is not exactly a “Seller’s Market.”
Ein fliegender Start
“They can’t keep this up,” Tobias said around a mouthful of food.
“Why are you such a pessimist?” Sasha asked, glaring at him. The bar was quieter now that most of the rowdier folks had left. They had claimed their table in the back, and were going over the details of the game against Erfurt.
“It’s not pessimism, it’s realism. Beck had 23 goals for us last season. He’s got 12 in 9 already. He can’t keep that up.”
“Suljić can pick up the slack,” Hans said.
Tobias sighed and sat back, finishing the bite of food he had taken before he started speaking. “He’s had 15 goals in 3 seasons at Schweinfurt . There’s a reason they let him go.”
“He’s got 11 now,” Sasha said. “He’s beaten Chemnitz, they made Cottbus earn that victory. These guys are playing harder than I have seen them play the past few seasons. They keep winning the way they are, I don’t care who’s scoring.”
“How far you think they’ll go in the Landspokal?” Klaus asked.
“Not that far,” sighed Tobias. Hans grabbed Sasha around the waist as she leaned over the table to smack him. Tobias didn’t move, he was used to such outbursts by now.
The only loss was to a very good Cottbus team. Chemnitz, Lokomotiva Leipzig, Carl Zeiss Jena and Cottbus are all former Oberliga teams, so there’s history there. And as a club we want to make history by getting promoted to the Bundesliga before they do.
I really wish I could take all the credit for the wins, but I would be lying. I literally set the team for the game, hit start, make a tweak every once and awhile, make substitutions when required, and let the game run it’s course. I am not of a meddler tactically, being in the school of “If it’s working well Tinkering is only going to make it worse”, and it’s a lesson I have learned well. But to say I was surprised at the teams performance would be an understatement, it wasn’t that we were winning games, it’s that we were doing so by large margins for the most part. The game against Erfurt though, that hurt:
I wasn’t too upset about Beck missing the penalty kick, the keeper made a very nice save. The two extra time goals though, the last of which came on a stupid penalty…Reher somehow jumping up in the scrum during a corner kick and getting a hand on the ball for the penalty.
Lass die guten Zeiten ruhen
“I swear by all that is holy Tobias, you even try to pour water on my mood I am going to kick your teeth in!” Sasha barely came up to his chest, but the finger she wagged in front of his face had a pretty wicked looking nail on it, and he had the good sense to be quiet.
“You said they couldn’t keep it up after Babelsburg, then it was doom and gloom after Hertha II, then when we lost to the idiots from Leipzig I couldn’t tell if you were more upset we lost, or happy we finally did. What gives?”
“You mean other than spending the night in lockup because you started a fight with the Leipzig Ultras.” He sighed as he took his seat, and motioned to the barmaid, who nodded and smiled at him.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” Hans said, putting his own beer down hard enough to make it spill some. “She did not not start anything with those Ultras. She congratulated them for a good win and a well played game.”
“And what did I get for being nice? Insults. Verdammte sächsische Idioten. Thanks Elise,” Sascha smiled at the barmaid, who brought a whole tray of drinks out.
“Well, to be fair, you did say you hoped they liked third place,” Hans said.
“To be fair they said I’d come in fourth place in a three lady beauty contest,” Sascha replied.
“You called him a Hasslehoff wannabe.”
“He called me a whore!”
“You said his mom counted with her hoof!”
“Can you prove she doesn’t? Besides, I reimbursed you for the fines.”
“You should have been there with us.”
“Look, I have always maintained that if there is trouble, I don’t have too run fast to get out of it, I just have to run faster than you…”
For a job well done, so far, we were rewarded:
It’s not a bad deal really, but even I am starting to channel my “Inner Tobias” and am wondering when the wheels may fall off, or slow down. For the moment, it’s a three team race to the top, and we have our work cut out for us.
The one blemish in a remarkable run of games was the Leipzig game. 3/4’s of the team decided that this game would be the one they wanted to take of, and Beck’s legs can only take the team so far, it’s up to the other players to help as well, and this game, they didn’t. It was the first time I yelled at the all season. They responded quite well.
Our Youth Intake preview was quite promising as well. Yes you have to take this with a huge gran of salt considering where we our, our facilities, and the level of competition, but this is not a bad preview:
Neues Jahr, gleiche Ergebnisse
Cottbus is the one team we cannot shake. And the one team we cannot beat apparently. Also teams from Leipzig have been giving us trouble as well, but for the most part the teams has been performing very well. I don’t want to say we are on cruise control, one slip up and we find ourselves behind Cottbus looking for a playoff spot, but I remain confident in the guys. They’ve taken us this far.
The Youth Intake
The preview was actually not too far of the mark, we have a decent youth intake, ands a couple of them have some potential as well.
Our best prospect, an already “Above Average” player in many areas: Pace, Fitness, Technique, Flair, Finishing. Sure, he has some holes in his game, but there is plenty of time to improve them, and his Resolute personality and 16 Determination will go a long way in getting those lower numbers up. The game says he’s a winger, I am going to retrain him as a Striker.
He’s got potential. The question is how am I going to get him the playing time to improve, and if I do get him the playing time, how much is his unambitious personality going to affect those improvements. As much as there are some things to like, the Reflexes, Decision making, Handling, Agility and Fitness, everything else is way too low, and most likely won’t improve without some luck. Which is about par for the course for a lot of newgens at this level.
I think Ott could be better than advertised. His aggression worries me, as does his strength, but with those Fitness, Determination, Dribbling, Technique, Passing, Flair and Finishing attributes (which if they don’t go up are still very good for this level of football), he will be a very solid player in the years to come, and if the opportunities work out for him, he could be better in the long run than Hamzic.
Eine Trophäe in der ersten Saison heben
The Berliner Landespokal is a regional competition, in this case the region being the city of Berlin, with the Berlin Football Association running it. There’s no money for winning it, instead you get a spot in the following years DFB-Pokal. While it’s possible, likely really, you are going to be a minnow in the first round, the appearance money is 183K, which is not an insignificant sum for a team that wins. And if you do make it to the Second Round, the money there is another 366K.
The good news is, we kept up our winning ways, and made it to the Landespokal final.
VSG Altglienicke on paper was not a team as strong as we were, but they caught us at the right time, tired, coming of some niggling injuries, and they had lost in the finals the two previous years, and we definitely putting their best feet forward. We however, played out game, and despite Pollasch going down with an injury in the 43rd minute, a Suljić goal in the 33rd minute, and a great keep away defense ensured we won, and put a new trophy in the display case.
The last two games of the season were key. Cottbus was well within reach off us, Lok Leipzig had fallen behind Four points was what we needed to ensure a first place finish in the League, and we got it, by beating the aforementioned Saxons 4-0 in the final game of the season. It was off to the playoffs.
The bar was crowded, to the point Hans was questioning whether or not the fire marshal stop by and force a few people out. It was loud, it was raucous, songs were sung, beers were spilled, everyone was having a good time.
Hans saw Tobias force his way thru the crowd, work had kept him late and he couldn’t make the game, but as he sat down between Hans and Ulrich, the look on his face didn’t change. He was dejected.
“Someone kick your dog, Tobias?” Ulrich asked, passing him a beer. Tobias looked at it briefly, then drank it all in one chug, wiping his mouth.
“Last of the Regionalliga games was played today.”
“We know,” said Sasha, her words a bit slurred.
“We’re playing Bayern II in the final.” Tobias said, sitting back and slouching.
“Bayern II?” Sasha all but shouted. Tobias nodded.
“Well, Scheisse,” Ulrich said to noone in particular.
“Yeah,” Tobias said.
Coming up in a couple of days, the result of the Promotion Playoff, a look back at the season and some of the players who made it possible, awards, statistics, and plans for the offseason. If you don’t see it in a couple of days, feel free to remind me about it on twitter.
From 1979 to 1988, Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga 5 times, and in the other 5 years never fell below 4th. And impressive win streak thats been superceded in recent years by an impressive run starting in 1998, when they have won the League 18 times. In 2022, they won the Bundesliga for the 10th time in a row. It was a spectacular accomplishment.
But they weren’t the first German team to do that…
In Berlin, in the borough of Lichtenburg, the quarter of Alt-Hohenschönhausen is home to Berliner FC Dynamo. Playing in the DDR-Oberliga, Berliner FC won their League 10 times in a row, with a core group of players that not only led them to local success, but European success as well. In the 1979-80 European Cup, they went all the way to the quarterfinals, becoming the first German team to beat an English team in England, when they beat Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest 1-0. With a stellar Youth system, bringing in players such as Bernd Schulz, Frank Rohde, and Christan Backs, and a solid core of verteran players, they reached the quarter finals of the European Cup again in 1982, losing to Aston Villa. In the 1983-1984 season, their loss to FC Karl MArx Stadt broke a 36 game winning streak, and again made it to the quarter finals of the European Cup before losing to Roma. A bit of trivia for those of you out there, each team Berliner lost to went on to win the Cup. In the 1984-1985 season they scored 90 goals, but some of their wins were not without controversey.
The DFV conducted a review in the 1984-1985 season and found the club was given fewer yellow cards, and other non call led to the conclusion that they had gained at least 8 points in 26 matches to to clear referee errors on the pitch. While the East German Stasi support of the club was well know, and there were flgrant instances of referee bias in favor of the club, such as the game against SCG Dynamo Dresden in the FDGB Pokal, there is no evidence that the referees were ordered (or bribed) to favor the Berlin club. In fact complaints against the bias club received led to the General Secretary of East Germany getting involved directly, and while several people were removed from their positions, they did little to assuage a lot of the publics beliefs of what was going on. Players and coaches on many teams believed that the Berlin club didn’t need any of the help they had received, because an excellent youth system, and solid player moves such as Thomas Doll from Hansa Rostock, ensured the quality of their sqaud was better than the teams they faced. The culmination of the clubs run was a last day win against FC Vorwarts Frankfurt that clinched the League on goal difference.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall meant changes for every East German club, but BFC Dynamo was among the hardest hit. The disbandment of the Stasi meant the club lost one of its main sponsors, and the East German Ministry of the Interior said it would support the club until the end of the 1989-1990 season and that was it. In an attempt to distance itself from it’s former sponsor, they rebranded as FC Berlin, but players leaving for greener pastures meant the team lacked the solid foundation and cohesiveness it had relied on during the 80’s. After finishing in 11th place and losing in the 2. Bundesliga playoff, FC Berlin was relegated to the the NOFFV-Oberliga, but despite dominating the 1991-1992 season, they again missed promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, and the last of their former players left. Depending on who you ask and what you use for sources, the entire roster of FC Berlin changed over twice in the three years since the Wall fell.
Despite making millions on playere transfer in the early 90’s, and competing in the Regionaliga Norst, the team was losing money and sponsers. Relegation to the Regonalliga was followed by insolvency proceedings, and it was found that the club was at least 7 million DM in debt. Supporters started fundrasing, former players came back to help, and a new presidum would take control of the team in 2002. After two years of close calls, with Team President Mike Peters funding the club directly, the club was promoted back to the Oberliga, and more importanlt, the insovlvency proceedings against it were settled.
The next few years were close run, as the club bounced between the Regionalliga and Oberliga while struggling to stay solvent. On more than one occassion one of the clubs main sponsers had to step into save it, and during the latter half of the 00’s the clubs financial situation improved.
The club rebranded itself as BFC Dynamo, and in 2009 adopted its new crest. In 2010 the club starting climbing back up the standings, winning promotion to the Regionalliga in 2014, and winning several Berliner Cups the following years, and despite some financial struggles put together some good sqauds, one of which missed out promotion to the 3. Liga at the end of the 2022 season on goal difference, which led to the dismissal of Coach Bennbenneck.
At the start of the 2022-2023 season, the club finds itself struggling. Its vaunted youth system is no longer in place, and while the squad has some good players on it, they are aging. The team is semi-professional, doesn’t have great finances, and promtion to the 3. Liga is tough, finish first in the Regionaliga gives that team a place in the playoffs, which you have to win in order to be prmoted. In addition, the clubs stadium is aging, and the finances are such that making the repairs required or building a new one is just not possible now.
Meanwhile, Hansa Rostock is in the 2. Bundesliga, and has a decent chance of finishing top half. SC Dynamo Dresden is in 3. Liga, having recently been relegated.
Into this situation step Nicholas Schmidt. The Berlin native and once promising Hertha Berlin youth midfielder left the game after the death of his father in 2014, and returned to the game as a junior coach with Hertha Berlin a year later, becoming a youth coach in 2018 before taking a coaching role with 1. FC Kaiserslautern II in 2020. While not the Supporters club first choice, he obviously made an impression on Club President Norbert Uhling to hire him.
“Nikki?” His father called out. The house was mostly quiet, except for the beeping of the medical devices. “I’m here Papa,” he replied, grasping his fathers hand. Those hands had been large once, and strong, a builders hands. His father used to say how proud he was of the fact the 3rd best thing he had ever done as a builder was to help tear down the Wall in 1989. His father coughed, and asked for water, which was provided to him via a glass his son held. “Can I ask you a sentimental question son?” Nicholas Schmidt blinked, hard enough he thought his father might have noticed. “What is you’re favorite memory of us?” “Playing football with you in the park Papa,” he replied honestly. “Which time?” “All of the times Papa. You would come home from work, check my homework, and we would make dinner than go to the park and kick the ball around. You showed me how the game was played, you gave me a love for the game, a passion for the game-“ “I took you away from it by getting sick.” “No, Papa, you didn’t. I love the game, I will always love it, but I love you more.” His father gripped his hand briefly, and the room was quiet, save for the beeps. “I’m sorry I didn’t take you to more games,” his father said. “You were working Papa.” “Not always…” was the reply, and Nicholas sat up. “In the closet, on the top shelf, behind the suitcase,” his fathers voice was quiet, but firm. Nicholas went to the closet, now empty of clothes, but found the box he was told to find. He opened it up at his fathers direction, and saw the scrapbooks. “The top one,” his father said, coughing again. Nicholas opened it up, and saw two tickets, for a game between Berliner FC Dynamo and Carl Zeiss Jena, dated 1977. “I met your mother at that game,” his father smiled. “She arrived with another young boy, but we left together.” Nicholas had fleeting memories of his mother, who had passed away when he was not yet four. “We couldn’t afford to go to a lot of games, but we would gather with friends and listen, and other times we would be by ourselves and listen.” As his father talked he flipped thru the book, pulling out old tickets, yellowed newspaper articles, gameday pamphlets. “She was a huge fan of the club, and I became one as well. I first kissed her at a match, when we beat Dresden. At least that was my excuse for kissing her, but in my defense, she didn’t object at the time.” He heard his dad chuckle, then cough. “After we married, we couldn’t go to as many games as we liked, what with my travelling for work, but she would write me letters.” Nicholas set the first book on the nightstand, and pulled out the second. Inside were more tickets and pamphlets, and letters. Neat, precise handwriting, going into great detail about the game she had watched. From the way she wrote, she either took notes as she watched the game, or wrote the letter immediately when she arrived back at their apartment. Putting the second book down, he saw there were two more in the box. “You never told me this before Papa,” he said softly. “The Wall fell, things got tough. Money, work, the team fell on hard times as well, all the eastern teams did. Plus there was the clubs history, it didn’t set to well with a lot of people, but she watched loyally until we couldn’t afford to buy tickets. Then the club rebranded, all the players left…” Nicholas listened as his father talked about the club after the Wall came down, as he read newspaper articles about their 7th consecutive league win, their 8th, their ninth. A letter from his mom, who wasn’t in the best seat in the house but saw Reich’s header go into the net for the win, and reading her description of the crowds reaction he felt as if he were there. He opened the last book, flipping thru the pages, and stopped on the last one. It was a photo of the family. His dad with his arm around his moms shoulder, as she held a small boy who was clearly unhappy to be there. “Nikki?” his father asked, noticing his sons silence. “A photo Papa, all of us at a game.” He saw his dad smile. “That was a good day. The team didn’t win, but we had a good time.” Papa was silent for a moment. “It was the last game we went to as a family, Marie became ill a few months later.” And eighteen months after that gone, to cancer. Nicholas flipped thru the books a few more times, then set it down and picked up one of the ones he had set down previously, and found himself reading newspaper articles from the early 80’s, when the club was winning everything. “Nikki?” “Yes Papa.” “Do you love the game?” “Yes, Papa.” “Then I want you to stay involved with in in some way. Playing, coaching, both, it does not matter. You stay involved. It does not have to be a career, but stay involved. You love it, don’t let me be the reason you walked away from it, OK?” Nikki smiled, and wiped a tear away from his eye. “Can you read me a letter?” his father asked after a few moments. “Of course Papa,” he replied, and with care, he lifted one of the letters from the book, and began to read. Tens of letters later he was reading softly, his mother was furious at the loss to FC Karl Marx Stadt, which had broken the clubs 36 league match winning streak. She wrote with emotion, her handwriting became a little sloppier usually when she was mad, and he read it as best he could. He didn’t remember his moms voice, but his dad had smiled earlier when she railed against a player from Hansa Rostock who’s two footed lunge could have hurt Backs quite seriously, and while he could not speak in her voice, her tone was unmistakable. He looked up from reading to ask his father a question, when he realized there wasn’t any beeping from the machine anymore. Setting the letter back in between the pages, closing the book and setting it back in the box, he stood up, and with a careful hand brushed back the thinning hair from his father forehead and kissed it. Albert Schmidt had never been a demonstrative man, but Nicholas had known he was loved, and the way his mom wrote he knew his father had been loved as well. He leaned down next to his fathers ear. “Go with God, Papa. When you see Mama, tell her I love her and miss her, and when I see you both again, I will be bearing a trophy with BFC Dynamo’s name on it. The Bear will Roar again, I promise you both. I love you. Thank You for everything.” He kissed his fathers cheek one last time, then left the room to call the hospice nurse.
Youth Oriented Saves and Youth Only saves are quite popular in Football Manager, and as with all Football Manager saves depending on the team you choose, your Youth save is going to be Easy (Chelsea, Barcelona, Sporting, Ajax) or Hard.
Several things affect a clubs Youth Intake:
The Club’s Youth Recruitment, which is how far away from the club a player could be pulled in from.
The Club’s Youth Facilities, which are separate training facilities for the Youth Team
The Club’s Academy Coaching, who are coaches you can’t hire.
The Club’s Country’s Youth Rating, the higher the more likely it is to generate good youth players
Your Head of Youth Development. There’s a bit to unpack with this. A HOYD with a high Scouting PA will better identify players with potential. The formation he favors will affect what positions he tries to recruit for, and last but not least, his personality will affect the youngsters brought in. The more “positive” a HOYD directors personality (Professional, Determined, Driven, Fairly Determined, etc) the more likely the youth players he brings in will also have a positive personality.
Some club’s have Youth Development Philosophy, that is they try and recruit the best young players they can to their Youth Academies, develop them so they are ready to make appearances for the Senior Squad before they are 21, and are then moved onto “Bigger Clubs” for profit. Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, Altinordu in Turkey, and PSV are good examples of this. Other Clubs choose to develop within, and keep the players they develop. The best example of this is Barcelona and their La Masia Academy.
Following are ten clubs (and a bonus club) that in my opinion are good challenges for a Youth Oriented Save. They aren’t from the biggest Leagues, and they may not be the “Best” teams in the league they play in, but they are all capable of winning them. Eventually. While they do not possess the best in every Youth related category, they have the capability to produce some very good youth players, making a youth save with these clubs a challenge, but not an impossible one, and there are a variety of stories to build around each one as well.
1. Lech Poznan (Polish Ekstraklasa)
Lech Poznan had had somewhat of a renaissance starting in the 2010’s, winning the League in 2010, 2015, and in 2022. They were knocked out of the Champions League this year in the First Qualifying Round by Qarabag, and look to compete for a European spot again this year. Youth wise, they possess the following in terms of Facilities and Recruitment:
Training Facilities: Great
Youth Facilities: Great
Junior Coaching: Good
Youth Recruitment: Exceptional
In addition, the club is financially secure, has a philosophy of wanting to sign U23 players, and is in my opinion actually helped by the Ekstraklasa League which stipulate that U22 domestic players must play 3000 minutes of match play or the club will be fines 317K Euro’s, which when you consider that winning 1st place nets you only 1.44M Euro’s can be quite the penalty. However, this is offset by a League rule that will award the top 5 clubs 127K-634K Euro’s based on U21 minutes played, and by International appearances any player on the squad makes. Can you fill all 41,620 seats in Lech’s stadium, and lead the best Youth Prospects in Poland to an Ekstraklasa Victory, and beyond?
2. Hibernian (Scottish Premiership)
Hibernian haven’t won the League since 1952, but they did win the Scottish Cup as recently as 2015. The clubs current philosophy is geared towards a Youth Oriented save, they want to sign players under the age of 21 to develop, they want to develop players within their system, and they want to maintain the quality of youth system they have, and it is a very good system. Facilities and Recruitment wise, Hibernian has:
Training Facilities: Excellent
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Excellent
Youth Recruitment: Excellent
Hibernian has three things going against it: Celtic, Rangers, and League Work Permit rules that make it very hard to sign talented foreign youth players to sign for the club. While the Leagues payout is not big, 1.19M to 3.56M Euro’s, the club’s finances are in Okay condition, and qualifying for any European competition is additional prize money for the coffers, which currently means finishing 5th or higher when the season ends. Can a Scottish Youth Movement beat the Old Firm? Play Hibernian and find out.
3. Basel(Swiss Super League)
In my opinion Basel is one of the more interesting “Bigger” clubs to try and do a Youth Oriented Save with. From a historical point of view, Basel has won the League 20 times, the last in 2017, and has finished 2nd four times in the last five years. The League itself is a top 20 League, with clubs like Grasshopper, Zurich, and St. Gallen all being very competitive. Under the hood though, things get a little bit…strange.
If you win the Swiss Super League you receive 3.69M Euro’s in prize money, which covers slightly more than half of the 6M Euro annual rent Basel is paying the city for using St. Jakob Park. I am almost positive that fee is not a typo. Despite that discrepancy, the clubs finances are in good shape, and Facilities and Recruitment wise they possess:
Training Facilities: Excellent
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Excellent
Youth Recruitment: Exceptional
Staying in the black financially means not only winning, but winning in European competitions as well. The question is can you do that with a team of Youth Players and fending off the likes of Zurich, Grasshoppers and others for those European places?
4. MŠK Žilina (Slovak Super Liga)
Žilina have won the Super Liga 7 times since 2000, and while the league itself may not be the biggest, the region is well known for turning out quality players. Like most leagues in a country the size of Slovakia, winning does not pay out bigly, only 115K Euro’s. That said the League itself is strong enough that finishing 3rd or higher guarantees European Football, and 4th thru 7th place participate in a round robin format in which the winner also qualifies for European Football, and while the club is OK financially speaking, any success in European competitions would be helpful. Facilities and Recruitment wise, MŠK Žilina has:
Training Facilities: Great
Youth Facilities: Great
Junior Coaching: Good
Youth Recruitment: Excellent
While that setup alone is good enough to guarantee Žilina will see some quality potential comes thru its doors, the one advantage the team has over its local rivals is its direct affiliation with MŠK ŽilinaAfricaFootball Club. The Ghanaian club is a direct affiliate, giving the Slovakian club an additional leg up when it comes to recruiting talent. Benson Anang is the best example of this, the Ghanaian International started for the club in Accra, then moved to Žilina in 2018 and has been a solid defender for the team since. With those facilities, the countries love of Football (over 400K players registered) and a pipeline to some potentially great Africa Talent, can you take a Youth Oriented team to the top?
5. NK Lokomotiva Zagreb
For the longest time after World War Two Lokomotiva bounced around Croatia’s lower leagues. Then in 2007, they had back to back to back promotions to the top flight of Croatian Football, the First Football League. After finishing in 2nd place in the 2012-2013 season, they have finished between 4th and 6th place in each the following seasons. Teams like Dinamo, Hadjuk Split and Osijeck have long dominated the region, even when playing as part of the Yugoslav First League, and for Lokomotiva to now be competing with them year in and out is quite the accomplishment. Additionally, Croatia’s standing in world football is such that the top 4 teams in the 10 team League qualify for European Football, so the opportunity for extra income is certainly there. The club has a policy of signing U23 players, and the League itself does not have any onerous work permit rules, other than a 6 non EU player limit, and the matchday squad having at least 6 players trained by a Croatian club. Facilities and Recruitment wise, NK Lokomotiva has:
Training Facilities: Good
Youth Facilities: Good
Junior Coaching: Excellent
Youth Recruitment: Good
At first glance those may not look great, but when you consider that the club is financially stable, and good Youth Recruitment covers Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Italy, the quality of Youth players they are going to bring in is very high. With a good HOYD, and judicious investment, good recruits at Lokomotiva can become great young players at Lokomotiva, and you can use them to dethrone Dinamo and Hadjuk before selling them off to bigger clubs and reinvesting that money again.
6. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Israeli Premier League)
Be’er Sheva returned to the top of the Israeli Premier League in 2015, winning back back to back titles, and also became a constant presence in European competitions as well, with their 2016-17 campaign being a highlight. After beat Sheriff Tiraspol and Olympiacos, they lost to Celtic and fell to the Europa League. In the Group stage they beat Inter twice, drew with Southampton twice, and lost to Sparta Prague twice, eventually losing to Beşiktaş. All that European football comes in handy, because the payout for winning the Israeli Prem doesn’t cover the 325K a year Be’er Sheva is paying in stadium rent. What they have done with a lot of those winnings is reinvest it into the club, which has:
Training Facilities: Great
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Good
Youth Recruitment: Excellent
The club has Okay finances, and the League rules are interesting in that in order to foster playing local players, squads that register 5 or fewer players receive a payout at the end of the season. U19 players are also automatically eligible for play in all matches, which works very well with a club that wants to sign/develop young players and then sell them for a profit.
7. FCV Farul Constanţa (Romanian First League)
Romanian Football legend Gheorge Hagi founded FC Viitorul Constanța in 2009, and after spending the next three seasons in the lower leagues of Romanian Football, were promoted to the top flight. They finished 5th in 2016, qualifying for European football, and won Liga I in 2017. Hagi had set up an excellent Academy after founding the club, and many players who won the League in 2017 were graduates, in fact the teams average age of 22.2 years were the youngest champions in Europe that year. However, in 2021 Hagi and Ciprian Marica, the owner of Farul Constanța, announced that they were merging. Viittorul disappeared in the process, Faul took their spot in Liga I, the team was rebranded as FCV Farul Constanţa, and the only things left of Hagi’s original club were the grounds the team played on, and the academy and youth system, and what a system it is:
Training Facilities: Great
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Good
Youth Recruitment: Exceptional
The team is financially secure, which bodes well for them because Liga I does not pay out a lot of money, only 138K for winning the league. Additionally, Romania’s stature in the game has fallen to where the league only gets 3 European positions, so developing and selling players for profit is one way FCV Farul can stay solvent. But what if you didn’t sell them internationally, but to other clubs in Romania? Could you build the nation, and the club, and achieve Europeans success again?
8. Danubio Fútbol Club (Uruguayan Primera Division Group A)
Founded by Bulgarian brothers and named after the second longest river in Europe, Danubio has had some success in Uruguay, winning the league 4 times, but what they are known for is developing talent. In a League that also has the likes of Peñarol and Nacional in it, Danubio has developed no less than 16 players who have made at least 50 appearances with the club and/or 30 with the National team. In a 16 team division, finishing 8th or above will get you Continental Football, and while the various Copa’s may not pay as much as their European ‘Cousins’ do, and with a league rule that sets a 3 foreign player limit in the playing eleven, developing and keeping quality youth players will go a long way to the club’s financial stability. Danubio would be a great club to build a story around because not only do they have fierce rivalries with Nacional and Peñarol, and that the Clasico de los Chicos Derby with Defensor Sporting is very competitive, but the clubs priority is to sign Youth players, and to develop and maintain the best Youth System in all of Uruguay. To help them do that they have:
Training Facilities: Adequate
Youth Facilities: Average
Junior Coaching: Excellent
Youth Recruitment: Exceptional
Much like Lokomotiva above, while Adequate and Average are not the best, investment in those areas will have immediate payoffs as Uruguay has one of the highest Reputations in the game, as well as a very good Youth rating. Can you find the talent, develop it, and dethrone Peñarol and Nacional?
9. Suwon Samsung Bluewings(Hana 1Q K League)
Baseball used to be the most popular sport in South Korea, until the 2002 World Cup, when as a Co-Host Country South Korea made it all the way to the Semi Finals before losing to Germany. Prior to that electrifying run, players such as Cha Bum-Kun had represented their country very well in Europeans competitions, but after 2002 players such as Park Ji-Sung, Ahn Jung-Hwan, Lee Young-Pyo started playing with top European teams, and today players such as Hwang Hee-Chan and Son Heung-min lead a new wave of talented South Korean players in top flight Leagues. More than a few of them started their careers at Suwon Samsung Bluewings. A Club that has had some past success, winning the domestic League 4 times, the Korean FA Cup 4 times, and the Asian Club Championship twice, Suwon has fallen off a bit since clubs like FC Seoul and Jeonbuk Hyunadai have started winning on a regular basis. That said, Suwon still has some very good facilities and coaching:
Training Facilities: Good
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Good
Youth Recruitment: Good
Financially secure, and with South Korea having one of the higher youth rating in the game, Suwon Samsung Bluewings has a great opportunity to find and develop the next generation of great South Korean footballers. The question is, can it hold onto them to achieve domestic and Asian success, or will they leave for bigger clubs in foreign leagues?
10. Stabæk (Norwegian First Division)
Of all the clubs in this list, Stabæk has some of the best youth facilities and coaching, Norway has one of the better reputations in the game, and their Youth Rating is very good as well, having produced several world class players over the years. Despite that, due to financial difficulties in the 2010’s, the club has bounced back and forth between the top two divisions, and in 2023 they were promoted out of the 2nd tier and back into the Eliteserien, the top Tier of Norwegian Football. For the moment they are financially OK, but they do have some issues, such as their stadium not being in the best shape. Facilities and coaching wise Stabæk has:
Training Facilities: Great
Youth Facilities: Excellent
Junior Coaching: Excellent
Youth Recruitment: Exceptional
Another issue facing them is that the Eliteserien has some very good teams in it, Italian Giant slayers Bodø/Glimt, Rosenborg, Viking, Molde, and Vålerenga are all quit capable of winning the League, and more often than not all five teams are competing for one of the top four spots that guarantees European football. Playing Stabæk and getting them to the top of the Norwegian League, and potentially to the top of Europe with primarily homegrown talent is going to be a long save, but success will be worth it in my opinion.
The Bonus Challenge/Club: Retrô Futebol Clube Brasil
Founded in 2016 by a businessman in Pernambuco, Brazil, Retrô FC’s mission is to remove children and adolescents from vulnerability, giving them a place to learn, develop, and grow through organized football. In less than six years they’ve achieved promotion and in 2022 (well, December of 2021) they start in Group C of the Brazilian Fourth Division. You’ll have to download a database to play them, I suggest Riddler’s Brazilian League download from Steam. Playing in the 46,154 seat Arena de Perambuco stadium, Retrô FC has the following facilities:
Training Facilities: Good
Youth Facilities: Great
Junior Coaching: Adequate
Youth Recruitment: Above Average
Nicknamed Fênix, Retrô FC is looking to sign players under the age of 23, grow the clubs reputation, and maintain a top 2 finish in the Division. Promotion out of the Division is difficult, and could take some time. But consider the challenge: You are coaching a club who’s main goal is to find and develop Brazilian youth players, some of the best players in the world. Can you find them, develop them, and more importantly keep them long enough to climb your way up the ladder, into the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A? Can you beat the likes of Palmerias, Santos, Corinthians and Flamengo, and win the Copa Libertadores as well?
Unfortunately, due to an electrics issues on my end, the Santa Clara save has come to an end.
Over the New Years holiday, I spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning up my computer and my external hard drives, trying to get all the files for all the games and programs I have into some semblance of order. Now I have one dedicated to games other than FM, one dedicated to other programs, and I have one dedicated to everything FM, and about a week ago, it died. No idea why, it’s less than a year old, it just stopped working. Took it to my local shop, they said “It’s dead Jim,” but he thought he could recover the data.
The somewhat good news is that he could recover most of the data, the bad news is none of the files he recovered will open for me. The save file I have for the game loads half way and crashes to desktop. All the notes I had typed up for each season that I use to help compile the recap as well as the screenshots I took are gone as well.
And its frustrating, because although I just finished up Season 5 in Santa Clara, I had just finished playing thru season 10, and as a result of the hard drive crashing, I’ve lost 5 seasons worth of saves, notes and screenshots. The one save file I do have left is from the beginning of season 9, so what I thought I would do is just take screenshots of the seasons, the transfers, the schedules, maybe look at where some players ended up and to see how close we came to toppling the Big 3 of Portuguese Football.
The 2027/2028 Season
Firstly, GIMN has released the dark version of his Musterman Skin, and I love and will be using it from this point forward, and the screenshots are from that. You can fins it on the SI Skinning forum or any of the FM fan sites.
Transfer wise, this was the first season when I knew my scouting had paid off:
Barcelona came after Şirahman Kudaş and had no problems paying his release fee. Eintracht Frankfurt making a move for Terceros was unexpected, but we got very good money for him. The bad news was we were still getting just 10% of the transfer revenue, and the pot was never that deep to begin with.
Seasonwise, we did very well:
Our European group was very tough, but beating AEK, Rosenborg, and CSKA Sofia while drawing with Nantes and FC Rapid saw us go thru to the latter stages. Domestically we were beating the teams we were supposed to be beating for the most part, but losses the Belenenses and Casa Pia were bothersome.
In the Spring, beating Brugge and Roma was very nice, but Fulham thrashed us in the round of 16. We made it to the Cup final, where we were thrashed by Benfica, but we ended the season in 5th place again.
Player wise Ibrahim Machorro, my young Mexican International I wanted to be a back up, he started most of the games for us and did very well. But consecutive top 6 finishes in the Premier League and a deep run in European football did two things for us: Put us on the Map, and put us on the Map.
The 2028/2029 Season
The Summer transfer window was quiet. The January transfer window we made a bit of a splash when Paulo Bernardo went to Milan for 18.25M. for someone we picked up on a free thats good business:
Schedule wise, we got off to a very good start. The highlight of the season wasn’t just doing well in the League phase, it was drawing with Benfica right before Christmas.
One of the things I aim for over the course of a season is that I do not want to rely on one or two players for all off our offensive output, and as you can see in the screenshot below, we did a very good job of spreading the wealth around:
I didn’t take St. Pat’s seriously, and it almost cost us, but from Mid September on we hit our stride, not losing any games across all the competitions. Now, maybe out Conference League group wasn’t the strongest, and yeah it took a 95th minute goal to beat Genk, but we beat them, and went into January with high expectations.
Seven games in February, one game every four days, saw us stumble into March. Lyon is definately a better team than we are, and it showed in our Round of 16 matches against them. Coming back to beat Vizela in the Cup was an accomplishment, but we still got drilled by Porto in the final. Against the Big 3 this season, across all competitions we went 0-2 and 5…however going undefeated in April and May in League play meant when Sporting stumbled at the end of the season:
We eked out a 3rd Place Finish, and Champions League football.
The 2029/2030 Season
Our transfer and payroll budgets were growing, but not by much, and we were still only getting 10% of the outgoing revenue. Even before the season ended we had some big teams coming after our standout players, and I triied as best I could to prepare for that in the Summer window. I was partially successful.
I was prepared to lose Gaspar, his performances over the last two seasons had been stellar, he made a name for himself as one of the best young DM’s in the game, and last season across all competitions he 40 appearances, 5 goals, 4 assists, 5POM’s and a 7.57 rating. Teams starting making offers for him before the season ended, but noone met his release clause until Arsenal did. I was also prepared to lose Machorro, last season across all competitions he allowed 52 in 50 games, had 21 shutouts, 2 POM’s and a 7.14 rating. Magnus Jorgenson was a young keeper with very good attributes who wanted out of Silkeborg, and getting him for 9.75M was a good deal. However, none of the teams after Machorro came anywhere close to his release fee, until the January transfer window when West Ham made a huge offer for him, and of to Blighty he went. In his defense though West Ham has become a Top 7 team though…
The season was a mixed bag, and while we played some teams well, we lost to others I don’t think we should have lost too:
Our European Group was tough, Juve, Tottenham, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Hoffenheim, Marseilles, Rennes, Ludogorets…we beat Ludogorets and Rennes, drew with Hoffenheim, and lost to the others. I could take some small comfort in that of the losses, we really only got blown out by Madrid, but we were bottom (or near bottom of the group) and didn’t qualify for the next round.
The New Year started off well, but the wheels fell off in February and March. We made it to the Cup Final again, but again were thrashed by Benfica. This year though, we had some success against the Big 3, going 2-1-5, beating Sporting and Porto in League play.
Somehow, and I am not sure how exactly, we did enough to finish in 3rd Place again:
I did play thru the 2030/2031 season, but do not have a save for it, the last good save I have is the 29/30 season, and I played up to the 32/33 season before screwing myself over when reorganizing things.
On the whole though, this was a very fun save. 29/30 was a tipping point year for us, as I recall we started beating the big 3 more often, but the highest we were finishing was 3rd. Some of the youngsters I brought in panned out really well, others didn’t, but we were making progress and I was quite happy with it, in another 3-4 years time I feel comfortable saying we would have been challenging for the League.
The other takeaway from this save is that I had fun doing it, and I think doing a blog save while I am also doing a Youtube save has been quite the experience, so in another week or so I will be starting up another save here on the blog. The problem is I have so many ideas for teams, I don’t know which one to do, I’ll probably just put them in a hat and let my better half decide.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you all come back for the next story here on my blog!
Our 5th Season at Santa Clara is proving to be what I think is the first big step we needed to take in order to stay at the top of the Portuguese Premier League. Qualifying for European football last season was part of that first step, this seasons transfer window was the other, in my opinion anyways.
First though, I had to fend off the other suitors. Taking a financially struggling down on it’s luck club back to the top flight and into European football in four seasons will undoubtedly raise a lot of eyebrows, and clubs have started enquiring about my services. The offer from Borussia M’gladbach I rejected rights away, as I have no desire to jump from one league where I am fighting the giants to another. A week later Atheletic Bilbao came calling, and although they have the financial support and ability to compete, fighting Barca and Real for the top spots isn’t any easier than where am I at now, especially when you are limited to signing only Basque players, so I turned down both offers and got back to scouting.
The Transfer Window
This window went like most of my transfers window do: According to plan, until the bottom drops out and you are scrambling. The first unexpected out was Joaquin Jara. The M(C)/DM had a solid season with us last year, but Eupen cam calling and he really wanted to leave, so I let him leave. Kılıç Arslan Kuruçelik leaving was unexpected to say the least. One of the two Turkish youngsters I picked up on a free after Trabzonspor let both go, I was expecting him to get a lot of first team playing time. With us, and not AS Roma. But the Serie A Italian club came calling, and out the door he went, because I didn’t have a minimum release fee on him.
What I was not expecting was Gabriel Batista leaving for Brentford with about three hours left in the transfer window. I am not sure why he was so eager to leave, he was a solid player for us, a team leader, but I suppose when a team that has trhe potential to finish in the top 5 of the ECL comes calling, you leave…to be honest it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either, but it just meant I had to play someone a bit earlier than I wanted to.
The January transfer windows went as expected, Augsburg had wanted Dmitirovic in the fall, but could not meet his minimum release clause, and to his credit, Bojan was OK when I said “This is what you agreed to, I am not letting you go for a Euro less.” And so when Augsburg came calling again in January, I had no issues letting him leave. Cymbron was a young striker who didn’t have Premier League potential, and Malmo was willing to pay more for him than anyone else.
I did a ton of offseason scouting, and it paid off in numerous ways. I signed 10 players, spent 10.75M total, and got at least two very good/great superstars out of my efforts:
I realize scouting doesn’t appeal to as lot of players out there, and that’s fine, there are saves where I don’t invest as much into it as I am doing with this save, but when it pays off, it really pays off.
Manu Bueno could never break into the Sevilla B team. He had several very good seasons on their C and B squads, but did not resign with the club, leaving on a free. The former Spanish Youth International had a few offers, but he chose to come here.
I had a plan for Ibrahim Machorro. I saw his name pop up on a Screenflow result. A 19 year old keeper starting for his countries senior squad can mean different things depending on the country. If he was from a smaller nation, you might took a glance and thats it. But when that nation is Mexico, currently ranked 13th in the world, and he’s keeping a healthy Raul Gudinio and Carlos Acevedo on the bench? That warrants a closer look, and when the midtable team he is on isn’t asking for a Kings Ransom in transfer fees, if you have it you pay it. And I did, setting a record for fee’s paid. He’s maybe at best a year or two away from being better than Batista, so I was going to play him in the cup games and maybe a few spot starts. Instead he became the teams first team keeper four weeks into the season. How did he do? Read on to find out. 🙂
Kaine Kessler Hayden is a former Aston Villa youth player who has bounced around League One and the Championship. Is he first team all the time playing ability? No. Is he a solid player of the bench and occasional spot starter? Yes, and his position versatility makes him even better value in my book.
Alessandro Fontarossa comes to us from Fiorentina on loan, a very dependable D(C) that I am looking to get a lot of playing time out of.
Former Vfl Wolfsburg left back Kevin Paredes signed on a free. The American International isn’t the tallest or heaviest, and he’s not a fan of big games, but for the formation we play in, his skillset and Playing Style really suit us. I doubt he will get a lot of goals, but I can see double digit assists in his future.
Stefano Della Riva comes to us from Verona on loan. A very solid M(C)/DM midfielder whose skillset fits our team very well, I would love to pick up his option, but I doubt I will see that sort of money (20.5 Million) anytime soon.
Žiga Laci is a depth purpose signing more than anything else. AEK wanted very little for him in terms of salary and playing time, he agreed to be a fringe player, and I plan on using him as a substitute more often than not, but we be comfortable if he were to start more than a few games at D(C).
I could talk about Gašper Lukač for ages. How I just happened to glance up at a screenflow result from an U19 international comp and saw his pass % completion was head and shoulders above everyone else, how my first look at him showed me a 19 year old player whose minimum number in six attribute categories was 13, how when I fully scouted him I about fell out of my chair, and how when Gorica said they only wanted 1M for him I did fall out of my chair, and kept saving the game every five minutes until he was actually here. I don’t know how long I can keep him, but while he’s here I am expecting great things from the kid. And those of you who have read https://fmjellico.com/2022/12/06/verjemi-mi-brat-to-imam/ will know those expectations have been met.
Nelson Delossa comes to us on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach, with injuries and scheduling issues, my midfield was getting a bit, and needed some help. Delossa was a very solid pickup, doing as well as I expected him too.
The same issues I was having in my midfield also happened at the AM position, and Đorđe Petrović came in on loan to help provide some cover. A very good youth player, the Serbian had several flashes of potential, but his clause was too much for us to pick him up at the end of the season. He strikes me as one of those players who is going to have a very long and respectful career.
Preseason started the 1st of July. European Qualification started the 23rd of July, when the squad was still in flux, I was making moves while trying to prepare the squad for the possibility of playing a lot of games at the beginning of the season. My fears were realized when we played 11 (!) games from the 23rd of July to the 30th of August across all competitions. My expectations were exceeded when we won 10 of those games:
Stjarnan, or Ungmennafélagið Stjarnan as it is known in Iceland, was a squad I did not want to take lightly, hell none of the squads we faced in the Qualifying Rounds were teams I wanted to take lightly. FC Twente beat a very good AZ and SC Cambur teams to take a Qualifying Spot, and Vojvodina is one of the better squads in Serbia not named Red Star, and none of those teams should or could be taken lightly. I found a squad balance early, I have more than enough depth at lot of positions that the drop off between starter and substitute was not the great (which can be a bad thing in some cases), and it allowed me to set up a rotation that was pretty effective. Sure, some players had off games, but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that after we lost our first game of the season away at Braga, we had a 14 day vacation due to international games, and when we picked up our seasons again, we went on one heck of a winning streak.
My main goal in the League phase was to not lose a game. Draws were nice, wins were preferable, but losing…we were going to do our best to avoid it. And we did a very good job. The change from last season to this season was one of familiarity I think. Players familiarity with each other, with the tactic, with their role within the tactic, and the fact that despite the outs we had, there were still a lot of starters left meant we had a solid foundation in place, it was building something on top of that foundation that was going to be the challenge. The previous season, by the end of December, in just League and Cup games we had drawn 7 games and lost 3. This season those numbers were 3 draws and 3 losses, and only one of the losses was a blowout. And to be honest, the loss against Sporting could have been a draw, because they were a man down for 60 minutes of the game, we just could not capitalize.
We went into the New Year on a high note, in 3rd place, with only Benfica and Porto ahead of us. And we kept the momentum going, beating Leiria to go into the Cup Semi Final, and a sneakily good Hapopl Be-er Sheva team in the League First Knock Out Round.
March was when it started to fall apart. A 3-0 loss to Sporting was no unexpected, and while our 1st Leg victory against Club Brugge in the Round of 16 was nice, Brugge had an off game, 10 of their starters were rated 6.6 or less. We had a chance in the second leg, being a goal down until the 61st minute, when Magnus Bech Riisnæs went off with a second Yellow. Brugge scored in the 71st minute, knocking us out.
By all accounts, it was a great run in the Conference League. It enhanced our reputation quite a bit, enhanced my reputation quite a bit, and showed the footballing world that Santa Clara had some very good players playing in the Azores.
Then the wheels fell off.
We stopped scoring. We stopped defending. We went from 3rd place to 6th place, and it looked like we were going to miss out on European Football again, when we pulled out a 4-2 victory against Maritomo and ended the season in 3rd place.
3rd Place is Europa League Football, and given that Benfica ran away with the league in an “Invincible” season, and Braga was 10 point’s behind them, that it took a last day victory for us to even finish 3rd is galling. Not that we ever had a shot at second place, but still, had we lost, yes we would have been in 6th place and been in the Conference because Benfica won the Cup, but it still feels like we threw something away.
Financially we were doing a lot better. Our competition Prize money was way up due to ue European Run, but for some reason our broadcast revenue was down?
And to give you an idea of what we are facing when it comes to beating Benfica:
So yeah, it could be awhile…
Budget wise, despite our decent season the numbers are still pretty low: 12.12 p/a in salary, and 7.24M in transfer budget. Annoyingly, I still only get 10% of the transfer revenue…I’ve asked to have it increased and have been rebuffed each time.
There’s talks of a takeover, which the current chairman keeps trashing, and while the offseason news seems to be swinging back and forth between ok and bleh, there was this:
Trabzonspor has to be kicking themselves right about now…
There was also these instances of good news:
And while I can’t prove our run to the Round of 16 was responsible for all the points gained, I know we played a role in this:
Squad wise, I am quite happy with most everyone. I mean honestly, if you aren’t mad at at least one player, you aren’t doing your job right in my opinion.
For a young keeper who was supposed to get just some spot starts, Machorro had a very good season. Angel Bazan did what was expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by both Alessandro Fontanarosa and Stefano Dalla Riva, who had very good stints for us. Miguel Terceros was the best all around player, his 16 goals and 10 assists put him on everybody’s radar it seems. The tactic I play requires a very good DM, and Şirahman Kudaş was perfect for it. At the end of the season he was really starting to get noticed, so I was able to resign him to a new contract that had a 20.5M release clause. I wanted to go higher but his agent said no. Blas Armoa also had a very good season, and as you can see from the number of games players had off the bench, I did a decent job of rotating everyone in and out for the most part.
Against the Big Three this season, were we horrible. 0-4 against Benfica, with a – 8 goal differential.; against Sporting we went 1-2, beating them in the League Cup Group Stage once; and against Porto we went 0-2 with a -5 goal difference.
You will notice I didn’t mention the Youth Intake. It was nothing special, although during the year we did convince the board to improve the training and Youth Facilities.
All in all, a very good season, European Football awaits us again, but I fear this offseason is going to be a lot busier than I want it to be, and because of the financial restrictions we have, I am not sure we are going to come out even, let alone ahead of where we are now.
But that’ s a worry for tomorrow, today it’s the beach: