So a 6th place finish in our debut season was something I was content with, we could have done better especially with our away form but if I’m honest it gave us a solid foundation to build on that and look to challenge for the top 3 promotion spots, could we do it though?
If you remember from the previous update, we were given a healthy £2 million transfer budget, I toyed with bringing Damir Kreilach back from Wolfsburg who was sold behind my back.
We sold him for £2.2 million up front and £4.8 million over 24 months with a 30% sell on clause – he was transfer listed after one season and we could have signed him for £1.7 million with getting 30% back it would have been a steal but although he was interested, his wage demands were too high given Felix Kroos had slightly improved on him in the same role.
We sold Simon Hedlund for £150k to Dresden, he was a squad player nothing more so a good deal for us and we let a lot of other squad players leave on frees whilst Pogatetz, Kohler and Gspurning all retired – again these weren’t players who had impact at first team level and we saved a good amount on our wage budget due to this.
I knew that left back, left wing and striking options were our weak areas whilst we needed cover at right back. We brought in Todd Kane on loan from Chelsea for cover for Trimmel at right back, Alan Ozbolt on a free for another striking option, Matthew Kennedy was signed for £300k to make his move permanent.
The big signing in the summer was left back Greg Taylor signed from Kilmarnock who had just been relegated and we parted with £750k which could lead to a further £50k in the future. He actually became the highest transfer paid out in Union history and he solves our left back problem and has big potential to be one of the key players.
Jay Fulton joins on loan from Swansea to provide midfield cover and Bornkessel is the 15 year old we picked up not long after youth intake day and joins our under 19 side but I’ve got high hopes for him.
We fell at the same hurdle as we did last season but again not a competition at this stage in the club development I cared that much about, a 6-0 win over lowly Ravensburg with a rotated squad was nice to see with doubles from loanee Kalmar, Fürstner and Skrzybski.
I was pleased to draw Frankfurt as they had finished 16th last season and would give us an early indication in a one off game how far away we were from that level. We were to lose 2-1 after extra time but this wasn’t a fair reflection of the game.
A decent set of six fixtures and 13 points from a possible 18 was very decent, getting off to a win on the opening day is always important and we did that as expected, smashing newly promoted Paderborn 4-1 signalled a great display with Redondo terrorising them on the left wing with a goal and assist.
I initially thought dropping points to Greuther Furth was poor given their lowly position last season but you’ll see later on they are impressive this season and really limited us in this game. Ingolstadt had just been relegated and away I felt we may struggle and we did, picking up 1 point from 2 away games had me worried though that our away form would continue.
We then went on to defeat Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 with a last minute winner through Zejnullahu as you can see below through a well worked goal and then defeated Dresden 1-0 with a Felix Kroos penalty on the 77th minute. Get in!
A very mixed spell followed our strong start but did enough to stay in the mix for the top 3 spots, FSV Frankfurt away should have been a win but despite dominating couldn’t find the net. Karlsruher would prove to be one of the promotion contenders so 2-1 was a big win and the fans were witness to a howitzer from Greg Taylor.
Next up and an away victory over a team relegated from the Bundesliga Darmstadt, our away form seemed to be picking up now – next up were games against Bochum, Nurnberg and Hannover and I expected two wins and then look to match Hannover but it didn’t go to plan.
We somehow lost 0-1 and 1-3 to Bochum and Nurnberg respecively and then stepped up and defeated Hannover 2-1 despite missing a first half penalty – we dominated this affair.
16 points from 21 available resulted in a great spell to the winter break and put our back to back losses to one side. Our lack of goals were becoming prevelant here and is why I acted to bring in a striker in January but we did keep 4 clean sheets in this 7 game spell so there’s that.
We battered Dusseldorf 21 shots to 8 and executed 638 passes with a 87% pass completion rate which I felt impressive but we somehow couldn’t find the winner, routine victories over St Pauli, Wurzburg and Heidenheim pleased me.
The 2-1 win over SV Sandhausen was big as they are consistent performers at the top end of the league, we scored in the last minute of the game to win this. Massive moment.
The 1-2 loss to Kaiserslautern was out of the blue but we got taken apart, we move on however. With 18 games played and the last game before the winter break we would play Greuther Furth at home, we were in 2nd place and they were top on the same points but a slightly better goal difference.
The end result was us being as clinical as I ever remember and duly battered them 4-0, our magician Eroll Zejnullahu smashed in this free kick below to get us on our way. WE ARE TOP!
Well that was a fantastic first part of the season, given Hosiner has just 7 goals in 20 games to be top is unbelievable. Defensively we are so tight and once again boast the best defensive record in the league.
It is still really tight at the top but that massive 4-0 win over Greuther Furth has given us a 3 point gap at the top and more importantly a 6 point lead to 3rd but we will need to keep at it to secure promotion.
In other news..
I couldn’t be more delighted to secure the services of Zach Clough, he suits our false nine role perfectly and given the poor form of Hosiner I was delighted to get the deal over the line. Bolton wanted £5 million for him in the summer but they are languishing in 19th place in League One this season and this time they only wanted £1.8 million up front, £200k future fees and 15% sell on clause.
We also secured long term deals for Zejnullahu, Nicolaisen and Skrzybski, I always like to reward players with bright futures performing well and in Zejnullahu case Bundesliga outift Freiburg were sniffing around so it made sense to tie him down.
I was also rewarded a new deal, another one year extension was given – I suppose being top of the league isn’t enough to give me any sort of job security. I was happier with the news that the board agreed with my request to improve the youth facilities though, right now it’s set at average youth facilities and this upgrade will cost £2 million.
What do you make of the start to the season? Can we hold on to win the title or will we fall away?
Thank you for your support and any comments, shares etc are very much appreciated. As always I’ll reply to any comments either left under this blog or on twitter @johnmcintosh19.
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