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..
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?
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Line up/Tactic screen
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?
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