Welcome back to Frankfurt! We’re having another strong season so far, and I smell silverware…
We’re still in every competition, and playing a more attractive style that is much closer to the way I want to play.
Today we’ll cover the last few months of season three before doing the traditional brief season review and taking a look at how we’re getting on towards achieving my five main aims for Eintracht.
But first, a quick mention for some “behind the scenes” housekeeping to get us underway…
Behind The Scenes:
Another day, another graph:
My frugal ways mean we have the lowest percentage of turnover devoted to wages in the entire division.
It’s taken a while, but our data analysis facilities are now considered excellent. We have also completed the purchase of Waldstadion:
Our ground maintenance costs went up by £73m this year, so I assume the purchase cost is that. We’ll make that money back, eventually.
We finally have a player in the Germany squad, but it’s perhaps not one you might expect:
At a mere 17 years of age, Rolf Klingenburg has won his first cap, while the likes of Stendera, Itter and David still haven’t got a look in.
A short month, as we have a three week break for some reason:
We played very well in all three competitive fixtures, although it was one of those days against RB Leipzig.
We barely gave Arsenal a sniff, to progress to another European quarter final, finishing 6-2 aggregate winners in an impressive showing. I had thought it would take a couple of years to break out of a Champions League group, but we’ve shown we can compete straight away.
The Augsburg performance was absolute domination, and Sebastien Haller was remarkably clinical.
After a quick training camp in Portugal we returned to normal action:
Another quarter final, and again, Liverpool knocked us out. Same as last season, they were too strong for us, and though we weren’t thumped, we were never in the tie. Their front three of Hazard, Salah and Belotti ran us ragged.
Two years running Liverpool have knocked us out in the quarters, and both times they’ve gone on to win the big prize. They are undisputably the best team in Europe (finishing with eight players in the European team of the season), and will take some catching. I’d quite like to avoid them in Europe next year!
The other noteworthy game of the month was the farcical extra time win over Mönchengladbach in the cup. We had them on the ropes throughout, with more than forty shots, yet contrived to draw 1-1. Thankfully we became good finishers in extra time to win 5-1. Weird.
Much like last season, our final month was pretty poor:
We also faced a tough few games. The headline is the tight cup win over Leverkusen to make it eight domestic trophies out of a possible nine.
Eight, which includes another Bundesliga title. Bayern absolutely destroyed us in Munich, but it was too late to stop us. Their strong second half of the season meant the final league table looked like this:
We had secured the title after drawing with Mönchengladbach, so it wasn’t a squeaker, but Bayern’s recent performances are impressive. Quite how Leverkusen and Dortmund failed to mount a challenge is beyond me. Leverkusen in particular have a highly impressive squad, but just can’t put it together.
Probably the right team selected:
Jung and da Costa continue to battle for supremacy at right back, and similar to our ‘keepers, are happy to rotate. Dimitar Mitrovski played a role too on the left flank, and deserves some credit.
In a big change from the last couple of years, we’re stacked with plenty of good average ratings:
Both keepers performed well, and I will probably continue to rotate them. All of our defenders were solid, but Gian-Luca Itter stands out as the best and most improved performer. His start for us last season had given me concerns, but he was great this year, and as a 22 year old German, home grown player, I have high hopes he can force his way into international contention.
In midfield, all of our creative players delivered, with Marc Stendera the heartbeat of the team from central midfield. Some of his passing was a joy to behold.
Although our strikers have remained a little inconsistent, their goal totals are good, with both Brenner and Sebastien Haller scoring twenty plus goals.
We have the winner and runner-up for the Player of the Year, but surprisingly neither is Stendera:
Xadas and Pedrinho both had good seasons, and their creativity and technical skills shone. I’m hopeful that there’s even more to come from Pedrinho, who at his best looked absolutely unplayable. We just need a little more consistency from him.
I’m back to prize winning:
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.
Three seasons on the bounce, and another rise in the rankings. Liverpool’s successive Champions League wins not enough to get the job done…?
2. Develop a brand of football. I love a swift, incisive counter attack that features fast, technically gifted players.
We’ve improved a lot here. With good passers, good dribblers and pace to burn, we’ve made great strides, and tactically, I’ve got a couple of ideas for next year. Which I’ll save for next time…
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.
I’m also looking for acceleration now. Hopefully the inclusion of these attributes on the above squad view screenshots show how well this is going. With separators and everything!
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.
The German manager and I don’t agree on much, which doesn’t help. He’s continually overlooking our players, and came out in the media to say he flat out doesn’t rate Stendera. Rolf Klingenburg was signed young enough that he’ll become home grown eventually (though he’s not in the full Germany squad anymore), and including him, we have four players in the German U21 squad, so there’s hope for the future.
5. Win stuff. Duh.
A domestic treble!
Clouds On The Horizon?
As well as closing the gap on us in the league, and giving us an absolute beating, Bayern reached the Champion’s League final, and kept faith with their manager for the first time in the save.
They’ve always got money to spend, so if they’ve turned a corner, domestic football could be more difficult next year.
The rise of Bayern might be a good thing though, as the nation has lost ground:
Bayern’s run to the final aside, it’s been a poor few years for German teams in European football, and looking at the coefficients, it’s unlikely Germany will break back into the top four anytime soon.
My playing time for FM might be a little tight in the run-up to the big C, so there could be a week without a post. But next time we’ll be covering all the summer changes, tactical plans for season four, perhaps a little youth development and the obligatory match action from the first few months of season four. As always, thanks very much for taking the time to read my nonsense!