Union Berlin is almost a hipster choice of a team to manage with, I imagine few taking up the reigns however I’m sure anyone associated with Union would not like to be called hispter, their fans are incredible. Crazy but incredible and that is where my title comes from “Für die Fans” means For the Fans as you may expect.
This doesn’t mean that I care what “Fabrice” thinks of my management despite picking up 5 wins from 6 games on the new Social Feed tab but it does mean that I will do the best I can for this special club and there are long term ambitious plans.
What are those plans? A three year plan is in place to reach the Bundesliga, Union have never played in Bundesliga so it’s a wrong I want to right and if we were stuck in this division for too long I’m sure any followers of this may get bored.
The club is expected to finish 11th by the media but the board expects a top half finish, the league format is 18 teams playing each other home and away so I need to defy the media to achieve the aims of the board, great. Let’s check our odds to be promoted, 300-1.
We’d be given a £400k transfer budget and £10k p/w spare in the wage budget, okay this may be a tough gig.
Union Three year plan
First season – Achieve a top half finish
Second season – Challenge for the top 3 spots
Third season – Get promoted to the Bundesliga
If we can accelerate this three year plan then fantastic but I have found that the league is incredibly competitive and others in the league have bigger financial power and better players so it won’t be easy. So pre-season, how did we get on?
We did quite well but I rarely feel that pre season results have much actual influence on the competitive season, remember Spurs under Juande Ramos? The 1-0 loss to SKU Amstetten was poor, we had more of the game but were made to rue a host of clear cut chances not being taken, the 4-2 victory over Real Valladolid was the best result as it was against competition I feel is on a par with some of the teams in our division. Hosiner with a hatrick was also pleasing.
I’ll be doing a full squad review at the end of the season so I’ll keep this short, you’ll notice the squad is so big however our wages are well under control it’s just a case of getting a lot of players off the books which can be more difficult than it should be.
So far the stars of the team are Eroll Zejnullahu our AP (a) who has 1 goal and 8 assists to his name and our centre back partnership Toni Leistner and Fabian Schonheim with 7.24 and 7.21 avg rating respecitvely, both have been rocks at the back. In the end of season post I will delve into the squad in far more detail.
Tactical set up
I’ve went with a fairly standard 4-3-3, it’s what I’m comfortable with but over time we may well see the tactic evolving and may look something completely different but for now I’m happy enough with it, I have two wing backs albeit the right wing back is being played as a complete wing back with two inside forwards who can offer an alternative attacking threat.
The defence play a high line which is risky and we are set to press aggressively which is why I have a sweeper keeper to mop things up, in general this happens but I’ve seen some terrible goalkeeping errors that seem like bugs.
The three in the middle work well in terms of the BBM pushing on and getting on the end of things and breaking lines, releasing the AP to an attack role has yielded much more assists than when at support, however I would like a few more goals from that role. Finally the DLP (D) sits deeper to protect the back 4 but is important in starting to build the passing play for attacks, we have this in none other than Felix Kroos, the younger brother of Toni Kroos.
You’ll look at this and think he’s received £7 million for a player in the second division of the Bundesliga and not spent anything why? Well our reputation isn’t great to attract, we received just 55% of transfer sales (I asked to increase before accepting offer, they didn’t budge) and the offer was £2.2 million up front with a further £4.8 million over the next 2 years but I managed to get in a 30% sell on clause.
Wolfsburg bid for him at £2.5 million, I then asked for £8 million up front then they came back with £2.8 million so I sent them a £7 million up front and 30% sell on clause as a negotiation. I press continue and get dealt with this below.
In the job less than a week and our best player is sold without any such consultation, thanks a lot you bastards. I am essentially handed £1.8 million from this sale, no seriously.
In any case below are the players we brought in, some have been used more than others. Matthew Kennedy is a lad I know of when he broke through in my own country Scotland with Kilmarnock but I liked the look of him for a loan deal and we needed a new left wide man – 5 goals and 4 assists have proved it to be a wise move. Mossmer, Helmke and Kalmar haven’t really featured to any degree and maybe I’m not giving them chances but the first team are doing well right now.
Hodzic is a smart striker and I believe a good loanee signing from Dinamo Zagreb and has stepped up recently since Hosiner has picked up a long term injury.
This magician signs on with Union with an extended contract and a pay rise to thank him for his performances, a few of his attributes I want to improve but he could potentially play a part for us if we get promoted that’s how highly I rate him.
I didn’t care about the competition and the board expected me to reach the second round, we did that by beating FSV Frankfurt 2-0 away with a solid performance without being exciting – Hodzic and Zejnullahu getting the goals before we faced Lotte, a team from the division below us and with us selecting a rotated squad they beat us on penalties. We were grim throghout the tie and were defeated on a sudden death shootout, both teams scored just 2 times out of 5 initial penalties.
We got the league season underway and in a game we probably just edged, we lost a goal to Greuther Furth in the 92nd minute with just 2 minutes added on with our pressing game or lack of a cohesive press failing and we allowed their striker Sebastian Freis to waltz through our defence to slot it home.
Next up our rivals Dynamo Dresden at home, just what we need but we won 1-0 through a well placed finish by our right wide man Steven Skrzybski but it was a back heel assist from Eroll Zejnullahu that lit up this game. Following this result we lost away to Bochum and Stuttgart both games that was always going to be tough but the draw to SV Sandhausen at home really irked me and after 5 games we had just 4 points and had lost 3 out of 3 away games. Worrying.
A two week break would then give us time to reflect and I made a couple of tweaks and after 3 wins on the bounce I could have been forgiven for thinking this was the turning point, it wasn’t. We faced St Pauli at home and smashed them 5-2, this was an even game in terms of shots but we created the better chances and had 61% of the ball and were incredibly 4-0 up at half time. A hatrick from Hosiner and 2 assists from Eroll Zejnullahu were the standout facts of this big win.
We then won our first away game of the season against Karlsruher SC through a double from loanee Matthew Kennedy who scored one with his head from a corner and scored the winner in the 79th minute with a 25 yard howitzer. Another 2-1 win followed when we defeated Kaiserslautern at home through goals on the 47th and 55th minute via Steven Skrzybski and Philip Hosiner respectively.
Then the shit hit the fan and we picked up just 1 point from the next 4 games, the defeats to Hannover and Eintracht Braunschweig were reluctantly to be expected but I would have expected either 4 or 6 points from the games against Dusseldorf and Wurzburg.
Against Dusseldorf we played out a very boring game and neither side deserved to win it but we did get a goal through BBM Stephan Furstner, the Wurzburg game was one of my worst in charge as we had just one shot on target in 90 minutes in front of our great support. Incredibly it was in our 2 tougher games where we could and should have picked up something, Hannover were probably just the better side but we had 15 shots maybe not of the best quality however and against Eintracht we had 63% of the ball and 13 shots to 5 against and managed to lose 0-1.
Before we faced FC Erzgebirge we were sitting 16th and just 1 point off of 17th, however at this stage between 3rd and 12th there was just 3 points seperating all of those teams. Super competitive.
We went away and came away with 3 points, shocked? I was, but we deserved it and I was looking at this run of fixtures with a bit of positivity as it seemed to be a nice run of games until Dynamo but we weren’t exactly performing ourselves.
A draw against Heidenheim was a disgrace and we didn’t do enough to comfortably deserve the win, I always feel you need to win your home games especially against this quality of opposition. I then tweaked the tactics to a higher defensive line instead of slightly higher and it seemed to help us gain control of games better, we then won 4 league games in a row.
The key win here was the 3-2 win over Nurnberg who were in and around us at the time and we actually went 3-0 up at one stage so I went mad at full time. 3 goals in these 4 games from Hodzic who was deputising for the injured Hosiner was crucial. We would lose 1-0 away to Dynamo Dresden and on the basis of play it may have just been fair, our away form is a concern but we jumped from 16th to 7th in this improved spell.
Our recent improved form has seen us go from mid table/relegation side to a top half side who could challenge for a playoff spot, how do you think we will fare in the second half of the season?
As always any likes/comments under this blog will be appreciated and if you want to discuss something get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19 or comment on the blog and I’ll be sure to get back to you.