Welcome back to Eintracht Frankfurt! After another very promising start to a season, we look set to compete across the board. We’re on another fine unbeaten run, but once again face Bayern away in January…
The big questions are; Can we avoid and/or beat Liverpool? And can we finally win The Champions League?
But first, let’s have a little bit of transfer window action…
It wasn’t my intention to do any business in this window really, but my scouts have had a blinder and I couldn’t resist:
Do I need another CB? Probably not, but he’s so, so good and will take his place alongside Ruben Dias in the first team straight away:
Nataliel signs for a bargain £11.5m on another one of those release clauses, and I think on paper, he may be the best teenage CB I’ve ever had.
The scouts also unearthed Rodrigo Díaz from Uruguay:
With Barcelona in a persistent pursuit of Sergio Gómez, and him demanding to be let go if they bid £85m, this chap couldn’t have appeared at a better time. We’ve got so many wonderkids now it’s ridiculous.
Two departures as well:
Brian Brobbey’s was anticipated, and once again I was left disappointed by a lack of interest. Valued at £37.5m, MGB’s bid was the only one that we got. Couldn’t even get a future clause in there. Despite ultimately underwhelming, Brobbey contributed 33 goals, 10 assists and averaged 6.9 in his 62(34) appearances for us.
I’m gutted to lose Sergio Gómez, but not surprised that Barcelona returned on deadline day. He wanted to go, and looked like he’d kick up a stink if we didn’t let him. I’ll cling to the facts that his form never returned to the heights of his incredible first season with us, and that Xadas is performing brilliantly this season to offer me solace. Gómez finishes with 67(10) apps, 21 goals, 33 assists and a whopping 7.4 average rating. Also, we’ve turned a nice wee profit.
In an identical result to this time last season, Bayern stripped us of our unbeaten run in a 3-2 thriller:
It was a pretty even game in which we made the slightly better chances, but unfortunately Klingy missed the best of them. He’s not been as clinical as he was since that breakthrough season. This run ended at 36 games. Pretty good.
A busy and pleasing month:
Despite difficult draws so far, our DFB-Pokal exploits continue, with a thorough dismantling of Leverkusen.
Sweet relief in the Champions League, as we draw someone new! And then batter them entirely. Marco Antônio is starting to put real pressure on Rolf Klingenburg for a starting role in the side.
The big story of February was the Hannover match. We were absolutely awful in the first half, with only Carlos Alberto Santos’ late strike getting us in on level terms. Then I used one of my favourite half time strategies – not using a team talk at all, as I channel my inner Brian Clough. And so followed our best half of the season, smashing six in to run out 7-1 winners.
We’re playing so well at the moment:
Unfortunately, Marc Stendera got injured against Mainz, and will likely miss the rest of the season. David Lee has made himself indispensible since signing, and is already Germany’s first choice left winger. Scoring a hat-trick against Mainz is sure to make him a favourite with the fans.
Another new team to face in the Champions League:
I’m surprised by how comfortably we dispatched PSG, as their team (and bench!) was stacked with talent. But then we
are were on top form. We were particularly good against RB Leipzig, handing them a complete drubbing and sealing our sixth Bundesliga title.
As usual at this time of the season, we had a bit of a stumble, and unfortunately it cost us a place in the DFB-Pokal final. It was a fairly even match with Mainz, but all four of our strikers had a stinker, and that was the difference. Also, we’re crap at penalties.
Another new side to face in the CL, and a mixed performance gives us a good chance at the final with two away goals.
Rolf Klingenburg joined the second XI against high-flying Wolfsburg, and we taught them a lesson:
It looked for a while like the Spurs game was going to kick us in the unmentionables. We were all over them and managed to hit the woodwork thrice, but eventually Patrick Boeckl unleashed a piece of direct running from the Pedrinho playbook to settle the nerves of me and the home crowd.
A couple more routine wins (both of those own goals could’ve been attributed to Klingy) and the league season is done:
Only one game this month, our second Champions League final appearance. I wonder who we could be facing…?
Surprise surprise, it’s Liverpool again.
A fair few selection quandaries for me before this game, only one of which was caused by injury. Marc Stendera has returned from the physio room, but isn’t quite fit enough to see out a full match, so Xadas retains his place as playmaker (he has been excellent too).
The decision at right back was almost a coin flip, but we went with Max Aarons as he has a touch more pace.
Form decides our other choices. Josko Gvardiol has outperformed Gian-Luca Itter recently, and we’ve kept the faith. Jonas David is preferred to the under-performing Sergio Montoya, as is Patrick Boeckl over Pedrinho.
The first half passed by quickly, with a sequence of unsatisfying highlights in a disappointingly low quality game. And then, in the 39th minute, the first decent move of the game:
The kind of move I love. Two minutes later and Xadas curled home a trademark free kick to make it 2-0. We went in at the half, marginally the better side and I told the team not to get complacent.
We immediately looked crap.
And Liverpool were suddenly attacking with verve. Despite that, it took some terrible defending from us from a free kick for them to score, with Fabinho nodding home.
Then, on 75 minutes, another free kick, more shoddy defending, but a damn fine finish had us pegged back to 2-2:
We’d already introduced Stendera and Pedrinho to no avail, but with seven minutes to go we made our last change, Marco Antônio coming on for Klingy. In the very last minute of injury time, the deadlock was broken:
Beautiful, wonderful Marco Antônio.
It’s such a relief to finally break the cycle of Champions League defeats to Liverpool!
A great job from top to bottom in the squad, with only Sergio Montoya really disappointing me with his performances:
Once again we didn’t have a really dominant goalscorer, but six players in double figures ain’t bad.
Xadas had a truly excellent year, I love a player that gets double figures in both goals and assists. He deservedly earns the Player of the Year award:
Max Aarons in second? What is it with this award and my right backs? In further awards news, David Lee won the U19 PotY award, and promising striker Eric Garnier nabbed the U17 PotY award.
With his great performances in the CL, Ruben Dias is our sole representative in the European Team of the Year. Carlos Alberto Santos was robbed, finishing as the second best striker but missing out on the team (playing 442…).
Despite being unable to make the Team of the Season, Klingy is voted 2nd in Fans’ Player of the Year…
But Xadas absolutely walked it. Nataliel should be in that side over Evan N’Dicka.
I think the biggest difference between this year and our previous efforts was an increased quality at centre back. With two genuinely world class players there, we were far stronger and very rarely conceded more than one goal.
We have an absurd unbeaten record (in 90 minutes anyway) in the Champions League, going back more than two and a half years:
And so, that’s the end of my time at Frankfurt. I’ve really enjoyed playing the save and the writing too, but the lack of competition in German football has made the seasons a bit samey. I was expecting a challenge from the biggest clubs in the Bundesliga and it hasn’t materialised. In particular it’s been surprisingly easy beating Bayern (they’ve only got one DFL-Supercup to their name in six years) and both they and Dortmund finished more than 30 points behind us this year.
Now that we’ve accomplished what the Eintracht Frankfurt team of 1960 (and my team from 2022…) couldn’t, namely winning the biggest prize in European football, I’m after a new challenge.
We haven’t achieved every goal I set at the start. The closest we managed to get to having five homegrown players in the Germany squad came at the end of this season, with five players (not all HG) in the provisional squad for Euro 2024. Gian-Luca Itter, David Lee and Rolf Klingenburg made the final squad, but Jonas David and Patrick Boeckl were cut.
But I’m not willing to sit through repetitive seasons to attain this last goal. So where next? Well, I’ll be staying in this save and looking for an under-performing side to fix up. All will be revealed in a few days. Thanks for reading!