Welcome back to Frankfurt! The season has started very well, and after three months we remain unbeaten in all competitions.
We’re making some great progress towards some of the save’s aims, but not all, so despite our excellent first two seasons, there’s still plenty to do. Most importantly, I’m still really enjoying both writing and playing the save.
Today we’ll cover the usual bits and bobs from the club. I’ll throw in a mention for a couple of the more promising U19’s, a little tactics talk, our work during the January transfer window and we’ll cover how things have gone during the middle four months of the season…
Behind The Scenes:
We’ve continued to improve the club:
The training and youth facilities have finally been upgraded to an excellent level, and it feels like we’re always upgrading the data analysis facilities. It’s taking aaaaaages.
I think our junior coaching and youth recruitment are now maxed out. Hopefully that’ll help bring more quality youngsters through our ranks.
I like these graphs and will throw one in from time to time. Twelfth in wage expenditure is pretty low, and even if I was spending every penny the board offer, we’d only be seventh. Bayern are spending five times what we are on player wages!
But the board have finally offered some real transfer funds:
Why not in the summer!?!
Just a quick mention for a couple of the more promising young players on our roster.
Claudio Pennacchia is probably the best of last year’s youth intake:
He’s developed well in training so far, and though there’s more work to do, he’s definitely showing promise. His determination has recently taken a small hit and as a result we’ve moved him to the first team squad to put him in a mentoring group.
We signed Wyn Pritchard for a ridiculously small fee in the summer:
He’s only spent a few days in Germany so far as we quickly sent him on loan to Oxford United in the Championship, where he’s performing pretty well. He’s not particularly well rounded just yet, but has some impressive attributes to build around. I suspect we will send him on loan again next year.
Well, we’re not unbeaten anymore:
There’s no shame in a one nil defeat at Old Trafford, although we didn’t show what we were capable of. I was very pleased to get out of this month with three wins, as we were
shit quite poor throughout.
A mixed month of performances, but great results:
We were brilliant both against Lyon and Bayern, as we continue our tendency to save our best performances for our toughest adversaries. We don’t look as tasty against lesser opponents though, relying on our defence and set pieces more than I would like, as we struggle to break down their defences.
It’s at this point I began to try and create a new tactical plan, particularly for more stubborn opponents.
January: Transfer Window:
Not too much first team action to speak of, which is the way I like it. We sent the scouts out looking for young players that might eventually become home grown, trying hard to find German youngsters:
We also have two youngsters lined up for the future, a Mexican goalkeeper joining in the summer, and a Russian midfielder who will join next January.
Of the seven we signed, four are German, and one stands apart, both in skill and price tag!
Rolf Klingenburg, signs for a club record £19m from Bochum. He’s immediately rated at 3.5 stars at 17 years of age, and is classified as a wonderkid:
I spent a couple of months negotiating and using nefarious tactics to unsettle him, but Bochum wouldn’t waiver on the price, so we had to stump up for his minimum fee release clause. But he does look very good. We now have three forwards considered to be wonderkids. I think someone will have to leave in the summer…
Only loans to go out:
I didn’t really want to loan out Fynn Otto, but as Hamburg only started Tomislav Papazov once during his loan, I needed to bring him back and registration rules prevented him from playing for a third club. So Papazov will be our extra centre back, and hopefully Otto will get plenty of games for Werder. It may work out better this way as his mentals still need some work, and mentoring him seemed to have stalled.
I’m not convinced any of the other players loaned out in January are going to make it at Frankfurt. Sahverdi Çetin is OK, but we are strong and deep in the centre of the park, and he never gets a look-in.
I fiddled about with a 4231 which focused on controlling possession, but eventually returned to our usual asymmetric 442, with a few changes to team and player instructions:
After a lot of analysing recent games, the main takeaway I had was that our attack was too narrow, and massed defences were finding us too easy to stifle.
We’ve also been too slow to put the ball into the box, and hopefully a focus on earlier crosses will help us. I’ve also tried to reduce the amount of long shots our midfield is taking using the player instructions, although both of our first choice wingers have the “shoots from distance” trait.
I’ve changed the playmaker role from deep-lying to advanced in order to push him a little further upfield.
After the winter break our first two fixtures were much of the same with the old tactic, wins, but unconvincing performances:
Against Dortmund we tried the 4231 for the first time and were excellent, but we were truly dreadful against Stuttgart and should’ve lost by a couple of goals.
Although it’s a tiny sample size, it was enough for me to implement the asymmetric 442 2.0, especially as with our stable of strikers, only playing one seems like foolish short-termism. You may be able to tell, I was going round and round in circles in my own head at this point!
OK, now we’re cooking!
We deserved every win and in a few cases, even more goals. I feel like all those hours re-watching matches and fiddling with tactics over December and January have given us a significant boost. We look a lot more dangerous now.
The game away at Arsenal was a classic that the neutrals must’ve loved. End to end stuff, and we managed to survive an onslaught in the second half to come out of there with our lead intact, giving us the edge to hopefully make our second CL quarter final.
What I’m most proud of though is how much stronger we look now as favourites against domestic opposition, and it seems to have made an impact on our strikers too, who had been struggling for both goals and form.
How’s the league looking?
Looking goooooood. Unbeaten, best defence, best attack. Our most feared rivals struggling for consistency as they go through manager’s like I go through coffee. Leverkusen had looked like our most dangerous opponent, but their form has imploded and they’re dropping down the table like a stone.
Next time I’ll be completing our third season as we continue our attempts to dominate German football, and progress towards becoming a true European power. There’ll be a season round-up, and our traditional post-season review of the five aims of the save. Thanks very much for reading!