Season 3 saw us fall short for the Bundesliga title, but it was a bloody close one. It’s going to come eventually. Believe!
We did bring home my first bit of silverware though, smashing Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final. A great way to round off what I’d count now as I’m looking back on it, as a successful season.
Season 4 has rolled around, and as you’ll know, there’s an additional club in the mix. With Philipp Lahm taking charge at RBS, this will hopefully enable me to send some fringe players there for gametime, along with sending some younger players to test them in a more challenging environment.
The media have slowly been coming round to the fact that we’re now a bigger club. Last season they predicted us to finish 9th. With our reputation now as the 11th most reputable club in the country secure, this season they’re expecting a 5th place finish. I’m planning an assault on the title again, but have agreed with the board that a Europa League qualification spot will be good enough for them. Again, I’m much better at exceeding expectations, something that’s going to get more difficult as this save goes on.
Let’s get into the pre-season transfers and results from the Hinrunde.
Two disappointing outgoings were Valentino Lazaro and Massimo Bruno. I had relatively high hopes for these two, but they just weren’t able to capitalise on any of their chances in the 1st team over the last three years. Lazaro was the first player in my time at the club to move from Salzburg to Leipzig, for £3.2m in season 1, while Bruno spent season 1 at Anderlecht on loan before returning to barely make any impact on the 1st team squad. Nukan has spent my entire time at the club out on loan, so was never going to make a breakthrough.
The two other bigger outgoings of the summer were the sales of Rani Khedira and Marcel Halstenberg for a combined total of £8m upfront. Both had almost been mainstays in the team so far, but it was time for a refresh and to go with some other options.
Aside from the loans to Salzburg that’ve already been covered, there was a fair few other loans out. Nemanja Mihajlovic’, a player I still think has some promise, move to Stuttgart aside, I don’t see a future in the 1st team for many of them at all. Perhaps time to start being more ruthless in these situations.
Can only really start in one place here, and that’s with the arrival of RBL’s new record signing, Christian Pulisic.
The £20m man comes in to slot in as one of the 3 AMCs behind our striker. Now 21, he’s still got room left to improve, and as we continue grow as a club, he’ll be our American poster boy.
The three other arrivals for the first team squad are above. Jannes Horn joins from Wolfsburg in what actually became a bit of a panic purchase in the end, to replace Marcel Halstenberg. The full back positions have been identified as ones to scour the globe for to find some upcoming talent to poach. You should know by now, as mentioned in the previous two RBS posts, that we were forced into purchasing Dimitri Oberlin, to keep him within the Red Bull family. I don’t see Ryan Gauld getting much gametime at all, but at that price, I couldn’t resist helping out a fellow countryman.
Golinski, van der Pas, van Dijk and Mansur all join and go straight into the youth team. Golinski and Mansur should hopefully count towards our German contingent in the 1st team in the next few years and I’m looking for van der Pas and van Dijk to kick on and challenge for spots too in future.
We started the season unconvincingly. Playing poor in a 2-1 home win v Karlsruher, and then lost two on the bounce, matches we 100% should be winning. If we’re ever going to win the Bundesliga, we can’t lose to Frankfurt or Hannover. Form did pick up though, including a remarkable couple of wins over Leverkusen and Schalke in consecutive matchdays, scoring 10 and conceding 1.
We’re undefeated against Bayern and Dortmund, which is usually a good barometer of where we are in the league…
It’s tight at the top, but we’re keeping up. 3rd best attack and defence in the league so far, and if those two infuriating defeats had been wins…I’m always left ruing our disappointing results as opposed to gushing about our good ones.
The Champions League
We got drawn into one of the worst CL groups you can imagine. Milan, PSG and Chelsea. It’d be tough, but as always we’d go out and do our best. Could we sneak into the knockouts?
We were 2-1 up in Milan for less than a minute as they hit straight back to earn a draw. The game against them in the RB Arena was too close, we should have wrapped it up far earlier but it took a 92nd minute own goal to get the 3 points. Delighted to go unbeaten against Chelsea and we gave PSG two good games but were unlucky to come away with any points on both occasions. The results against Chelsea and Milan would stand us in good stead…
But it was tight! It took Milan beating Chelsea in the last group game to take us through on a head to head. We’ve been drawn against Benfica in the 1st knockout round. I’m quietly confident about progressing there.
Bayern got the better of us in the Supercup season opener, disappointing to not add another trophy to the cabinet after the DFB-Pokal win last season. We are on track, however, to progress in that competition again. Karlsruher are driving us close in every game we play against them, but Schalke must be starting to hate us. It went to extra time, but a Timo hattrick saw us through. The aggregate score against Schalke so far this season in two games is 10-4!
His proper breakthrough season. On reflection, I should have let him off the leash earlier, but Poulsen and Selke have played well for me so far, making them difficult to drop. He’s hit 9 goals overall, with 8 of those coming in 10 league starts. His attributes may be suited to playing a targetman, but his height of 6ft isn’t totally ideal. It may be time to re-think the forward role…
He’s never going to replicate his form from season 2 again, but I’m okay with that. I still love him. He’s also scored 9 goals so far this season, mainly from one of the two shadow striker roles in the AMC 3. 6 assists for him too so far, so it’s a relatively productive season so far for my main man. Now worth a whopping £35m, oh my.
Such a solid option at right back, so much so that Bayern have been sniffing round him and managed to unsettle him. Not wanting to lose my star right back, and now vice-captain, a new deal was agreed. Not reflected in the above screenshot, but he’s now on £58k a week. He’s even chipped in with 2 goals so far this season!
Arguably been the star player so far this season alongside Dadachov, Mihalcea has stepped it up majorly. 3 goals in the CL group stage plus 1 against Bayern in the league shows he’s a big game player, alongside a winner against Gladbach on matchday 17 too. All in all, he’s got 5 goals and 7 assists so far this season. He makes it very difficult for me to not play him when I’m trying to rotate. Just performs so well.
Will the Bundesliga title finally be coming to Leipzig this season? I’m not sure yet, it’s too difficult to predict. As always, Bayern are strong. It’ll be really tough to topple them.
I’ve got a few decisions to make regarding the squad in January. It’s good, but I still think we could do with adding some top quality. If you’ve joined #FMSlack or follow me on Twitter, you might have spotted we’ve added a certain top young German central midfielder.
I’ve been promising to write about my current tactical set up for a while now, and I promise it is coming! We’re playing some great football at times, and really dominating games now, where with our previous tactical set up, that wasn’t the aim and it certainly wasn’t the case.
I’ll keep banging this drum until everyone in the entire FM universe has joined, so just hurry up and join #FMSlack! The easiest way for you to join at any time is to either hit me up with a DM on Twitter with your email address, or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org