We’ve settled on our tactics (all three of them) and our first team line-up(s), so it’s time to see if a more consistent side can win us a nice piece of silverware.
I’ll run through the last few months of the season, and then leave you with a few snippets of data by way of a miniature season review.
Finally, we’ll take an early look at whether we’ve made progress towards my five aims for the save.
Defence wins ball games!
Listen, I know we ain’t gonna win any prizes for exciting football this season, but our plan to keep it tight and prevent ourselves from cocking anything up is working an absolute treat.
We controlled all five of these games, the 0-0 draw away at bottom placed Dusseldorf was the biggest miscarriage of justice I’ve seen so far, but these things happen. I’m thrilled to have progressed in the Europa League, where we will face Chelsea in the Quarters. And we’ve got a damn good shot at the DFB-Pokal Final, having avoided Bayern in the draw.
Schalke were very good against us, and the defeat to them seemed to hit the squad’s confidence. We managed to stick close to Chelsea in terms of the scoreline over two legs, but in truth, they could’ve won by a few in both matches. Still, our European performance this season is something we can be proud of.
We recovered somewhat from our dodgy start to the month, securing a place in the cup final (surprisingly not against Bayern) and after it looked like Stuttgart were going to rob three points off of us, we finally managed to break through and complete a comeback I’d given up on. Brenner looks good:
He’s young, he looks very promising, and he ticks the five attributes I’m looking for…
And he’s done it in injury time again!
I think we might need to root around down the back of the sofa this summer to try and get him signed permanently. He’s become the only striker I really trust.
And that leaves us with one league game to go, Champion’s League football secured and still with a shot at the title, albeit a long shot:
Our last game is away at Bayern. For the title to be won, we must better Dortmund’s result away at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Long shot indeed:
I’ve never had a big game go so entirely my way. The first goal was from a corner after 54 seconds, the second, a direct free kick and we were two up within ten minutes. Then Rafinha got sent off. We controlled it. Francisco Geraldes ran the show. No fouls! There must be FM Gods, and they must like me.
Thank you for putting the cherry on top, Thorgan.
So to the cup final, where we play Hertha Berlin, in their own stadium.
There’s Brenner in stoppage time again!
Don’t let the final stats fool you. We were awful. The vast majority of our chances came in the second period of extra time as we desperately tried to avoid penalties.
Hertha played 70 minutes with ten men, but it was in the four minutes they had to play with just nine that we scored, with the last
kick header of the game. A mention here for another new FM addition – VAR. The joy of scoring a last minute, cup final winner, followed by the wrench of the gut as the officials double-check it, followed by pure relief… This is perhaps an extreme case, but it’s a great addition to the game. Although I have no clue why the goal was reviewed…
It’s been an incredibly successful season. Did we get lucky with opposition red cards at the vital moments? Absolutely. But the team did their part brilliantly. The team of the season is the same line-up I would’ve selected, other than Da Costa for Peruzzi at right back:
One of my two end of season awards:
I’ve been saying all season that despite getting good team performances, not many of our individual players have excelled, and I think the end of season stats prove that:
Not all that many sevens. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense really.
Kevin Trapp was great in goal, he made some vital saves at huge moments. Unfortunately it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to buy him. Similarly, our best central midfielder was Francisco Geraldes, and I don’t think we’ll get him either.
Brenner was a breath of fresh air up front when he started playing for us in February. I’m a little more optimistic about signing him, providing Sao Paolo don’t mind some future fees.
Our best two performers that are actually ours, were Fan’s Player, Carlos Salcedo, who was the pick of our central defenders, and Nicolai Müller, who got double the assists anyone else managed and was our best creative outlet.
And a bit of credit to Danny Da Costa and Taleb Tawatha. A pair of full backs I thought would be living on the bench this season, but who by seasons end were both first choice.
I started the save with five aims of varying type. Have we progressed towards achieving them?
1. Become consistent Champions League Qualifiers, and eventually, one of the top ten teams in Europe.
Well, it’s progress on the rankings front, with a way to go. But we’ve already qualified for our first Champion’s League. Hopefully we can repeat.
2. Develop a brand of football. I love a swift, incisive counter attack that features fast, technically gifted players.
Not. Even. Slightly.
But we weren’t trying at all this season. Our current brand of football is best described as clean (we had the fewest fouls and cards in the Bundesliga – 21 yellow, no red), organised and patient.
We totes won corners this season. I didn’t come up with any particularly clever routines, we just put the right players in the right places, and practiced them in training. A lot.
We aimed to create quality chances rather than a quantity of chances, and this seems to have worked:
Hopefully with a full summer of transfers, we can move more towards the type of football I want to play.
3. Technique, Composure, Decisions, Determination, Pace. These are the five attributes I’ll be targeting with new signings to hopefully get us towards that new brand of football.
Another one that’s a bit early to tell. Jack O’Connell has the attributes certainly, but the rest of our signings so far have been because we needed players rather than fulfilling a philosophy.
4. Develop youth talent, with an emphasis on our own homegrown players. Eventually, I want five of them in the German national squad. A big ask.
We’re nowhere on this. But next season we’ll have a few promising young players coming back from loan deals. We’ve also had a youth intake that was alright.
5. Win stuff. Duh.
The biggest tick of all!
There’s a lot to come over the summer. It looks like we’re going to lose some important players as their loans end and [spoilers] we’re not gonna have much money to spend. At the same time I want to be making some more progress towards aims 2, 3 and 4.
Season two promises to be a challenge, but one I’m really looking forward to. Thanks for reading!