Hello and welcome back to this blog, as you can likely tell from the title we will be going to Scotland with Rangers to try and break the Celtic dominance as they aim for 6 titles in a row. It seems a good time as I’m refreshed after a break from FM for a bit and with Rangers in a sort of mini crisis in real life with questions over the manager and being 27 points behind a dominant Celtic, it’s a wrong I wish to put right.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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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First of all I want to say thank you to everyone for the support for this series so far, I’m fairly new to the community and from all of the retweets, comments or shoutouts on the previous two Deep Lying Podcasts from two bloggers I really rate – @FM_Grasshopper and @VRFussball it’s all really helped.
So we left the last update at the winter break as league leaders with a 3 point gap to 2nd place and 6 points to 3rd place so had a bit of a cushion but the league is very competitive, could we hold on or go up even?
8/15 points. This was a real up and down run of fixtures, Paderborn are the weakest team in the division so the draw was poor and we never turned up. The loss to Ingolstadt was one where they were just very clinical and we weren’t.
Good but expected wins over Bielefeld and FSV Frankfurt at home was pleasing to see, especially sticking 5 past Frankfurt despite going down to ten men after 49 minutes but failing to beat Dynamo was frustrating.
Skrzybski started and finished this really nice counter to get us off the mark against FSV Frankfurt and I like how we got numbers in support and in good areas and a smart finish at the end
6/15 points. What the fuck was this, were we going to bottle it? Karlsruher were pushing us for the top 3 spots and on the balance of play we could feel aggrieved to come away with nothing but our away from was starting to worry me again. Defeating mid table Darmstadt 2-1 signalled a dominant display but we would then draw our following 3 games.
The draws to Bochum and Nurnberg were just ridiculous and we were starting to bring other teams into the fold but other sides were slipping up too, with the exception in general of Ingolstadt who were putting in a great run.
A strong draw away to Hannover who were one of five teams pushing for the top 3 promotion spots was sort of pleasing but it was more lost points. A slight positive was that left winger Redondo was on fire and scored 3 goals in this period.
Rico below, consoling himself for when Union bottle promotion. What a delight you are, but at this stage I couldn’t really blame him.
To give a picture here these were the league standings with 5 games left. 1st Ingolstadt – 58 points 2nd Union Berlin – 52 points 3rd Karlsruher – 51 points. Remember only the top 2 spots would be automatically promoted with the third place playing the 16th place side from Bundesliga.
Thankfully we would put together a run of wins at the business end of the season with 3 goals in this period of 5 games from striker Philip Hosiner, wins over St Pauli, Dusseldorf, Wurzburg and SV Sandhausen whilst bagging 11 goals was very pleasing although we had a easier run in I’ll admit. The 0-3 loss was out of the blue and they destroyed us but I took it on the chin and we go again to paraphrase.
We took it to the final day where we came from 1-0 down after 8 minutes to smash SV Sandhausen 4-1, it all came together and we were ruthless. Below you can see Trimmel scoring our 4th to complete an emphatic victory.
3rd place Karlsruher would lose 0-2 to St Pauli on the final day and would incredibly face Hertha Berlin.. Yes it was that close to being a Union v Hertha Berlin playoff derby but I was buzzing with promotion, I saw that the first leg finished Hertha 2-2 Karlsruher so I decided to attend the 2nd leg.
Hertha would take an early lead but would be pegged back before half time, from there on it was a nervy affair but Hertha needed to score to stay up due to away goals rule. They would strike it from 25 yards in the 93rd minute. GOAL! It seemed an age but in dramatic fashion there was an offside flag, it must have nicked off a Hertha player but looked harsh and they were down.
I was sort of wanting them to stay up to get some derbies but in ruthless fashion I picked their right back Peter Pekarik up on the cheap for £180k so swings and roundabouts.
2. Bundesliga League table
An improved season, more goals scored and less conceded but Zach Clough injury for 8-10 months in his second appearance killed his momentum and was a big miss. We really pushed Ingolstadt close for the title eventually losing out by a point but Union Berlin were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.
We would complete the first phase of my three year plan early but like a few others have experienced I was now hit with right, are we actually ready for this?
Although the social feed could be much improved in terms of the generic postive/negative/average responses, I really enjoyed this
I was tempted by FMSamo to write a seperate youth article but at the moment I’d prefer it to be kept within the main updates, check him out he’s blogging his Leipzig save and can be found on twitter @FMSamo.
Anyway we were successful in upgrading our youth facilities at a cost of £2 million and they jumped from average to good which is pleasing, we also had another good youth intake with Christos Angelikousis looking to have a very bright future, I’m going to show off the new recruits and how the others from last year are progressing.
I had tutored Maximilian Hensel and Werner Bornkessel with players with stronger peronalities which was encouraging in terms of their progress but Markus Altendorf ambitious personality was great from the start. I really like that all three youngsters have strong physicals and all three are tied down to pro contracts when they turn 17.
I also wanted a German focus within the squad and haven’t really managed this and see my best bet in producing top young talent which is another philosophy I have.
Progression of youth intake of 16-17
I’ll keep this short but for me there were three outstanding players this season. Fabian Schonheim was an absolute rock at the centre of defence and a 7.49 average rating proves how strong and consistent he has been.
Errol Zejnullahu is a player I’m falling for, I’m going to Berlin and me and him will be best mates such is my praise for this hero. He is starting to glide past players and is always improving. 6 goals, 9 assists, 7.36 average rating and 6 man of the match performances for us in a team that generally doesn’t score lots is so vital.
Lastly I decided to give Kenny Prince Redondo some game time (yes, what a name) as a winger (a) on the left of the attack and he massively surprised me. 8 goals, 13 assists and a 7.35 average rating assured he was first choice and I extended his deal because of this.
Summer transfer budget
I met this news with utter dismay, considering due to wage increases and promotion clauses our wage budget rocketed to £275k p/w so it was tight but due to hitting the squad with low cup and league bonuses I was able to get around £1.3 million to spend. Risky business perhaps but needed in my opinion.
So promotion at last for Union, could we stay up with a quite tight budget? What did you think of this update?
Thank you for your support and any comments, shares, retweets etc are very much appreciated. As always I’ll reply to any comments either left under this blog or on twitter @johnmcintosh19.
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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Welcome back as we see if we can take our pre winter break form into the new year, in all honesty we were more consistent in the second part of the season and never fell below 7th place which was pleasing.
Could we against the odds mount a challenge to be promoted? Let’s find out.
2. Bundesliga results
So we were in inspired form and had a 4 point gap to 3rd to close, we had however played a host of weaker sides and in my mind I felt this season a top half finish would still be the aim but we would give it a go to see what this side could do.
We faced Bochum at home after a long winter break and thumped them 4-2 in a confident performance with us scoring 4 in the first half. Goals from Matthew Kennedy, a Hodzic double and an own goal saw us take the 3 points.
We followed this up with a a 1-0 away win, yes you read that right. An even game but we took the three points in the 89th minute through a great finish from Zejnullahu after good work from James Maddison in the box after receiving the ball from a throw in and then cutting it back.
We would then be defeated 2-1 by Stuttgart at home which being truthful wasn’t the worst result given they would end up runaway leaders but the 1-0 loss to St Pauli frustrated me, another even away game would be changed in the 88th minute when our left back Parensen got a second booking and we lost a goal in the 90th minute. Brutal
Karlsruher would be next up at home this time and we would win 1-0 when it should have been 3 or 4 if I’m being honest. The goal scored by Skrzybski was one of the most scrappy goals I have witnessed but it gave us a big 3 points.
Another away game. Another winnable fixture. Another defeat.
This is the type of result that cost me a bit this season, facing a team who finished 15th should be a simple win but not for us on our travels, again it was even with us just shading it on the day but they scored a wonder goal from 30 yards from open play then 2 minutes later went 2 up through a unreal 25 yard free kick.
We’d get back in the game through our right back Trimmel on the 34th minute which was a great 22 yard strike too but couldn’t get the equaliser. Frustrating.
A simple home victory would then be attained when Felix Kroos dispatched a penalty in the second half but we limited Dusseldorf to one shot against us which was pleasing, annoying we couldn’t score a few to show our dominance however.
Back to back 1-1 draws would follow with the away result against Wurzburg frustrating the life out of me given top sides slipping up and us not taking advantage but the 1-1 result against Hannover was pleasing.
We went 1-0 up through Nicolaisen from a corner but were pegged back on the 19th minute through a goal from Sobeich, however we were the dominant side and missed a penalty on the 26th minute which would prove costly.
On our travels again and against a 2nd placed side needing the win themselves, I feared the worst. I shouldn’t have as we ran out 3-2 winners, we were 3-0 up at half time with Furstner and a double from Hosiner but I was frustrated with having to hang on in the last 20 minutes given where we were in the game.
Furnster goal was a great team goal and you can see it below we love to keep possession but we also move the ball at a good tempo and Eintracht can’t handle it, credit goes to @VRFussball on twitter who helped show me how to create these. He’s also on the Deep Lying Podcast very soon so check them both out.
Still a massive result and pushed us back within 5 points of 3rd place, could we do this?
Looking at these fixtures I targeted 13 points if we were to really have any chance of 3rd place. We managed 8 points, in the end we would have needed to win every game due to Dynamo better goal difference but it wasn’t to be.
To start off a 3-0 win over lowly FC Erzgeburge was expected and we scored through Kennedy and a double from Hosiner who was back from injury, I knew this tie and 1860 Munich were the easy games and duly won both.
Dropping points to Heidenheim killed our hopes, well I thought it did but there were slip ups elsewhere and we went to 4 points and with 2 games to go we had the slightest chance of going up, the draw to Arminia Bielefeld saw us leap Hannover into 4th but we couldn’t catch 3rd now.
4th place would have been over achieving but what’s wrong with that? Well FM likes to put us back in our place and we were battered 3-1 by lowly Nurnberg and I don’t understand what happened if I’m honest. We collapsed.
So a 6th place finish in my first year at Union and £7.61 million in prize money, we bottled it to a degree on the last day losing to lowly Nurnberg which saw us drop from 4th to 6th but overall it was a fair reflection on a decent debut season in Germany.
A couple of points I’d like to make, scoring just 47 goals was the 10th highest in the league and is something I desperately wish to improve on but despite shipping 3 goals on the last day we held the record for the joint least goals conceded in the league this year. A solid foundation to build on.
Another area we really need to improve on is our away record, which I’m sure I mentioned in the previous update. I tried different formations, such as 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1 with a more counter strategy but it never worked so reverted back to our trusted 4-3-3 and it was hit or miss as to what we would gain from these games. The away form killed any chance we had of a top 3 challenge.
Home league record
Away league record
It is quite mad how strong we are at home and how weak we have been away from home, to clarify we have the best home league record but only the 11th best away record. We have two major things to work on ahead of next season, fixing our away record and starting to score more freely, on the second point it’s not that we don’t create enough but the quality of finishing lacking.
This hasn’t been helped with our best striker Philip Hosiner being out injured for around 4 months of this season but a big need to improve on this whilst having some positive signs for the future too.
Leaving Union was attacker Colin Quaner who had never featured with us to any degree and felt it was fair to move him on and we did that to Austria Wien for £145k and moved on his £5k p/w and we moved on Roberto Puncec to Maccabi Tel Aviv for £70k and £5k p/w as well, he had been marginalised due to strong form of Leistner and Schonheim and also an arrival.
Talking of that arrival we signed Rasmus Nicolaisen from FC Midtjylland for £500k who I felt was a young strong centre back with potential to improve. He has 13 for almost every major CB attribute I look for and at this level that is impressive for 20 years old.
We also managed to bring in James Maddison on loan from Norwich to give us extra competition in the middle of the park. I’ve put it behind me that he smashed in an incredible free kick against Rangers this season in the last minute through a falsely awarded free-kick, or maybe I haven’t just yet.
Maddison scored a 77th minute winner over 1860 Munich but apart from that he never lit the league up anyway but was a nice loan addition for competition however Nicolaisen would start 9 times this season with an average rating of 7.33, impressive given the strong form of Leistner and Schonheim in the first part of the season.
In other transfer news we were knocked back from a highly ambitious loan offer for Oliver Burke who was loan listed by RB Leipzig (check out a top guy in the FM community on twitter @FM_Samo who is blogging with them). Sunderland swooped in for Oliver Burke and he chose them in the end, an early relegation under his belt followed. Ha!
I think I can easily select the top 5 players in terms of average rating as our standout players this season, 3 of these are centre backs so that tells it’s own story in terms of how strong we were at the back but also that we need to do better going forward.
One creative player I was really impressed was Eroll Zejnullahu who finished the season with 2 goals, 11 assists and an impressive pass completion rate of 87% given some of the risky passes he must make. Our main creative spark.
His central midfield partner Stephsan Furstner also had a strong season as a box to box midfielder with an 89% pass completion rate and chipping in with 6 goals and 3 assists in some big games too.
However for me at the back Fabian Schonheim was so impressive at the back and saved us on countless times, the defence was very strong last season and he was a rock. A 7.33 average rating tells it’s own story but he is also a good organiser at the back and we seem much more secure with him starting.
A major part of what I wish to do with Union is to create a strong youth ethos and improve our youth facilities, bringing kids through to the first team, at the start of the game you only have 3 players in Kotchev, Kroll and Lammel – the latter probably has the biggest chance to make it but all are decent prospects.
The rest are greyed out players but none look good enough, as I haven’t managed in Germany not sure if that just happens in our first season or if it will continue. (If anyone knows please let me know)
However we were given some good talents within our youth intake day which I was surprised with given our youth recruitment being fairly basic and average youth facilities but below are the players we signed up.
I have to admit to being very impressed with Markus Altendorf who “has the potential to be one of the best players at the club” and at 15 years old I am excited by his physicals, good passing of 12, first touch of 10 and his personality is ambitious which is great.
After Altendorf I am next excited about the prospect of Maximilian Hensel, like Altendorf he has quite strong physicals for being just 16 years old and with finishing and heading of 13 and teamwork/workrate of 15 and 12 respectively he could be a good target man in the future.
The others were given chances to develop but may not make it, we’ll see. I usually scout a host of 15/16 year olds on youth intake days throughout the world but right now our reputation isn’t strong enough to attract the interest of players in clubs that have strong youth academies but I picked up a 15 year old left back who was without a club, I have no idea why he didn’t though.
For free I am delighted with our signing of Werner Bornkessel, a professional personality along with again very strong physicals for his age, great team work and determination and is always improving. One to watch.
I was happy to receive a new contract offer but for some reason they would only give me a one year deal, I tried to negotiate this to a 3 or 4 year deal but they wouldn’t budge so hopefully we have another good year next season, eh..
We made a £186,931 loss last season, it’s well under control and not something I am too bothered about as hopefully we will make the Bundesliga soon and you get incredible prize money. For example an 11th place finish would result in receiving just over £42 million, we’ve also managed to slightly reduce the wage bill so that will shave a bit off too.
Second season initial budget
A fairly healthy budget to use for the second season, we would also say goodbye to many players who had contracts ending in the summer which would free up quite a bit on the wage budget side of things. If you remember my 3 year plan it was as below.
First season – Achieve a top half finish
Second season – Challenge for the top 3 spots
Third season – Get promoted to the Bundesliga
With a 6th placed finish we had comfortably achieved my first season target and given most of the first part of the season was stuck around mid table to just above the relegation zone it was a solid achievement.
Second season I feel strongly we can go on and challenge for the top 3 spots, the top 2 spots gain automatic promotion and the 3rd placed side faces the 16th placed side from the Bundesliga – for example Dynamo Dresden had an incredible season and finished 3rd but were thumped 4-0 and 2-0 by Frankfurt so stayed in this division so ideally a top 2 finish could be on the cards, time will tell though.
What did you think of our debut season? Do you think we can go on to be promoted next 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.
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.