Injuries destroying us.. Für die Fans

Welcome back as we hoped to continue our strong form condemning the expected relegation struggle, to bring you back up to date we were sitting in 6th place but had a trio of top clubs chasing us – Gladbach, Wolfsburg and Schalke were all within 3 points of us and I had mentioned I had hoped we could finish below these clubs and no further down.

As the title suggests we were ravaged by injuries and for a large period of time were without 6 first team players and if I’m honest our depth just isn’t there at the moment so we had a much poorer second half of the season. Excuses I know.

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DFB Pokal

We were able to put together a cup run due to being quite lucky in the draws and avoiding the big teams, after beating Leipzig 3-2 AET we were handed a tie against mid table Freiburg and despite losing a goal after a minute we responded to win 2-1 despite Felix Kroos being sent off on the 75th minute.

We were in the quarter finals and noticed Bayern and Dortmund were the only big teams left in the draw and we managed to avoid them drawing FC Nurnberg who were playing in the 2. Bundesliga.

We dominated this match from start to finish running out 3-0 winners Ben Arfa scored a penalty in between goals from 17 year old Maximillian Hensel and Markus Altendorf who were both impressing me.

We are in the bloody semi finals – Bayern, Dortmund or lowly Augsburg would be our opponents and we went and drew Augsburg. I took this as an almost certainty we would be in the final and forgot we had lost 6 of our best players so it turned out to be tough.

We never turned up as we can but matched them and went 1-0 up on the 62nd minute through pressure down the right and the ball turned in by their defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw but would lose concentration and concede just 2 minutes later.

We would then have a chance on the 87th minute to win it with a penalty but Ben Arfa missed, it would go to extra time and then penalties..

We would miss 4 of our 5 penalties and lose 2-1, Ben Arfa missed a penalty in the shootout as well. Prick

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Bundesliga

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So this is tough to look at, reviewing things we were fine until Dortmund onwards – 13 points picked up from 7 games is good form but then a couple of things happened.

We would lose a variety of first team players around this time and we would go on to face Dortmund, Hamburg and Hoffenheim in a row, 3 teams pushing for Champions League qualification.

The 2-1 win over Gladbach was massive with Clough scoring first and Kreilach grabbing the second on the counter and the three wins on the bounce was fantastic if not expected with Hensel scoring this goal below against Ingolstadt.

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We then picked up a well fought point with a 1-1 draw with Leipzig then beat Stuttgart 3-0 away which I was pleased with, then we didn’t score for 4 games and were battered 5-0 and 8-0 by Bayern and Leverkusen respectively, I’m ashamed…

One thing I would say is on the last day we were 2-0 down to Augsburg but we turned it around to 2-2 and with that we sent those bastards down which was pleasing and jumped from 10th to 9th. Clough equaliser below, Altendorf does most of the work

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I was annoyed with our second half of season form but we did have tricky spells combined with horrible luck with injuries with a first team lacking in proper squad depth so I understood why it happened and taking a step back this was our first season ever in the Bundesliga.

We had defied the odds of 18th place to be very comfortable and that prize money was going to be beautiful.

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In the course of the season I was also offered a 3 and half year deal until summer 2022 which I was obviously delighted to agree to, there were some staff changes in the summer which I will discuss on the next update too.

Financial/Sponsorship

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I forgot to take a screenshot when our finances were at it’s peak but we had £40 million in the bank and had made a £32 million profit from last season, heavily down to the incredible £46 million prize money for finishing 9th.

I also love this addition to FM 17 below and was delighted with the increase in sponsorship, the visual impact does a lot even if it is just a very small addition to the game.

An extra £6.75 million per year in sponsorship was very pleasing and seeing prize money at just over £50 million is sensational.

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Squad

Some players did reasonably well given the step up and so I should let you know who impressed, Zach Clough provided 11 goals and 7 assists in his first season at top flight level. Given he was out for 2 months this season through injuries it’s been a decent season for him but expect more going forward.

Fabian Schonheim was our best centre back by far again this season and he’s Mr Reliable even at 32 years of age, a 7.32 average rating shows how important his performances have been.

Ben Arfa was a strange one, he’d light up a game and be a match winner then give me a 6.2 the next 2 games and had clearly lost some of his pace now however it has been a worthwhile signing and hope he can improve next season.

Lastly Maximillian Hensel and Markus Altendorf had breakthrough seasons, both lads I signed in my first season at 15 years old and they broke through due to high potential and injuries later in the season.

Hensel provided 6 goals and 3 assists in 12 starts, 3 man of the match awards and a 7.22 average rating. He also claimed the German u17 Player of the Year award, Altendorf the runner up.

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Altendorf has really developed well this season with 9 goals and 2 assists in 24 starts, impressive at 17 years old and due to his performances I have agreed a new longer and improved deal with him but this below annoyed me.

@FM_Grasshopper will share my annoyance at this – on that note go and check him out as he blogs about his time with Estudiantes in South America, one of the best FM bloggers about.

Anyway I’m rambling so he demands a new deal, I ask him to sack his agent which he does and before I can offer him a new deal he’s hired a new one so can’t avoid the agent fee.

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Youth intake

This year was another fairly strong youth intake with Markus Maul having the highest potential but four others with at least 3 potential stars too and their attributes at such a young were promising.

Most have fairly decent personalities too but will look to tutor them to improve and help aid their development, whilst 16 year old Christos Angelikousis was developing well but as he’s 16 he can’t play or go on loan yet so he was stuck where he was.

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Christos Angelikousis

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Sneak peak at transfer news

I was pro-active and after having tracked this lad for over 8 months I had noticed he was transfer listed by Napoli and his asking price had dropped from £6 million to just £4.1 million, I had to move quick on this one.

Despite interest from Hamburg they never actually bid and he amazingly agreed to join Union Berlin. £4.1 million and £36k p/w was a delightful deal. Welcome Emanuel Mammana!

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Thanks again for all the support for the blog, it really does mean a lot and interacting with those who are enjoying it is making me enjoy this even more. If you do enjoy this then please give it a retweet on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19 or comment in the comment sections below or on twitter and I’ll get back to you.

Eisern Union

A hatred of draws and exceeding expectations – Für die Fans

Here we are little Union Berlin in the Bundesliga for the first time ever, from our small budget to our squad needing revamped to our media prediction of 18th. This was going to take a bit of time to adjust to the step up and it was going to be tough or was it?

If you remember we were given a measly budget but I adjusted cup/league payouts so I was able to move that to our transfer budget so gave me around £1.3 million to play with. We needed about 8 additions so I spent most of the money on one player as you do..

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Outs – Some fringe players in the first team squad left but the main one was Stephen Furstner who gained many appearances for me but wanted to double his wages to £14k p/w and was not Bundesliga quality so I couldn’t justify it, the others were as I said fringe players so made sense to move them on as they weren’t of right quality.

Ins – There were many gaps within the side I wished to fill and frankly the budget just wouldn’t accommodate it, blowing most of the budget (£925k) bringing back Damir Kreilach maybe wasn’t the best idea in terms of bringing in a host of players but we received around £300k back from this deal due to a sell on clause, of course nothing was added to the transfer budget however.

I scouted Ajax and came across a kid I’ve heard some good things about, nope Dolberg was already gone but we secured the loan of Abdelhak Nouri who can play box to box, number 10, inside forward roles so gave us flexibility and I liked his PPM of tries killer ball often.

Peter Pekarik was a buy from rivals Hertha after they went down, he’s a slight upgrade on Trimell, has great experience and I love his team work of 18 but at 32 years old it is a short term fix, I was happy with my 3 signings here but then it dawned on me we have no fucking money left.

Loans were then agreed with Southampton’s Jason McCarthy to provide us cover at centre back and Julio Villaba from Gladbach, the result of this were awful and both have had there loans terminated.

We were plodding along in November, the next message I receive is “agent offers Hatem Ben Arfa who is without a club” I stay calm but scout him with every expectation he will demand £50k p/w or above.

We get the scout report back and he only wants £15k p/w which we can match but I even manage to get him down to accept £10.5k p/w which I’m really pleased with, if he doesn’t perform out of this world surely he will help commercially?

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Moving on from our transfer business, we’ll get to how the squad managed in our debut Bundesliga season but first a couple of key points. We have the lowest budget in the division by a distance, we are predicted to finish rock bottom with odds of 1000-1 to win the Bundesliga and due to budget constraints a bunch of 16 year olds are in and around the first team. Daunting

Bundesliga fixtures

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An early win over Frankfurt at home was good to get the three points on the board early, 16 year old right winger Markus Altendorf providing Zejnullahu with a stunning cross, before we were soundly beaten by Gladbach away.

A massive 2-1 away win over Wolfsburg who were surprisingly near the foot of the table followed with that man Altendorf getting his first goal for us, he became the youngest Union and Bundesliga player/goalscorer so quite a feat.

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Battering Ingolstadt 4-1 was sweet revenge for beating us to the title last season with Altendorf again scoring but in much more scrappy terms with Clough scoring his first goal since that long lay off.

Then we would be defeated back to back by Karlsruher and Freiburg – if I’m honest these are the only two defeats this season I have been raging with as we are much better than both but collapsed against the former 4-1 and then were unlucky to be beaten by Freiburg on the balance of play.

We would however bounce back to beat Koln 1-0 with an 88th minute goal from Redondo on the counter, Koln had the £40 million man Moussa Dembele (no laughing in the back there) so posed a physical presence up front.

Back to back losses over Dortmund and Hamburg were expected with the latter flying and well in contention for Europe, from here we would change a few things with the defensive line being dropped back to normal and pressing increased to much more.

Probably our biggest result of the season would then come against Hoffenheim and would feature a wonderful Damir Kreilach free kick which resulted in a 3-2 victory over a side challenging for Champions League qualification, you can see the stunner below.

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We’d follow that up by beating Leipzig, Stuttgart and Mainz to record our best run of the season but would suffer the loss of Eroll Zejnullahu to injury for 7 weeks, the win over Leipzig was unbelievable. Clough scores, Leipzig equalise, Leipzig go 2-1 up, Clough scores, Leipzig go 3-2 up, Clough scores, Leipzig go 4-3 up, Clough scores.

It’s 4-4 and the last goal was scored on the 61st minute so we go overload and throw everything at them. The end result is below, Clough you hero!

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Clough would hit a double in the Mainz victory taking his form to 8 goals in the last 4 games, the patience was starting to pay off. We then came crashing back to earth with a really tough spell. Bayern, Leverkusen and Schalke were very tough teams and we’d not really contend with any of them.

We did however get a very comfortable 3-0 win over Augsburg before the winter break. A rollercoaster of a season to say the least.

Bundesliga table

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So aye, we’re exceeding every expectation anyone had of little Union Berlin before the season kicked off and incredibly have not drawn a single game – the only side in the league to hold that record but winning slightly more than we lose means we are sneaking in to contention for Europe.

The trio directly below me of Gladbach, Wolfsburg and Schalke are all teams who expect to be where I am and personally have to think they will put on good runs to get ahead of us but after that I would quite like a 9th or 10th place finish and getting to the apparent magic 35 point mark as soon as possible.

DFB Pokal fixtures

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Goslar are a terrible lowly side and we dispatched of them easily in the first game of the season but would then wait 2 months to face RB Leipzig, this was another bloody epic. Naby Keita would rifle a shot across the box but was going well away from goal until Greg Taylor diverted it in with an own goal, he would gain a 6.0 average rating and I would curse my trip to cold Kilmarnock begging him to sign for us.

The game looked to be heading for a routine 1-0 defeat but with 10 minutes left I went 4-2-3-1 and through Redondo on at left wing who would deliver, Zejnullahu would send him one on one with a delightful lob assist and he would sprint on to it and smash it home on the 86th minute.

Borja would then give Leipzig the lead again taking advance of a failure in our offside trap/high line but then we would show real character with Skrzybski scoring from a good Clough lay off before that man Redondo winning us the game in the 107th minute with Clough again the creator. Check the winner below.

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Line up/Tactic screen

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There has been a few tweaks to how we line up but nothing drastic, I really am not one of those who go really in depth with it though, some great FM content is already out there to do that though but I’m pleased with some of the transitions and the style of play at times.

The start to the season given the difficult circumstances has really surprised even me to be fair, what do you think of it? Where will we finish the season?

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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