Back again for another update in the RBLeipzig and RBSalzburg save. In a slightly reflective soppy comment, what a save this has been so far. I’ve said it a few times over the last week or so on Slack, as much as I love managing in my home country of Scotland, I think Germany and the Bundesliga has been the best league I’ve ever managed in on any version of the game. Austria? Meh, not so much, but heck that just adds to the whole story.
When we left off during the winter break, we were sitting atop the Bundesliga. Four points clear of Dortmund, with two games in hand due to our Club World Cup winning exploits. We hadn’t lost yet in those 15 league matches, we’d romped to six wins out of six in the Champions League, and as it happened, our only defeat of the season so far was against last season’s Europa League winners, Arsenal, in the European Super Cup. Would that become a significant point come the end of the season?
January was largely uneventful on the incoming transfer front. Our only signing being a young Welsh forward coming in for £50k to bolster our attacking options in the B team squad.
I’ve been trying out whether packing my B team squad full of decent players will give them a better chance of promotion to the 3.Liga, thus playing competitive football in an active league, giving me another option to develop talent. It hasn’t worked this season. They failed to gain promotion. Sad times.
Much more outgoing activity to go through. The main one being Lukas Kalkan‘s eventual £24m move to league rivals Dortmund. Not too worried about selling to a rival with this one. He was the first newgen to make the move from Salzburg to Leipzig, but he hardly got a sniff at our first team, especially so with the arrival of my star Tunisian newgen CM. Delighted to sell him on for a relatively large fee though. The other highest profile leaver, and also another ex-Salzburger to leave, is Dimitri Oberlin. He heads to Hertha for £4.5m. We make a loss over around £1m on him after his move a few seasons back, but again, he was never quite able to consistently find a starting line up spot.
It’s clear from these two outgoings that we really do need to focus more on the Red Bull Revolution. We need to ensure that our players are truly ready to make the step up, and at the same time, continue to develop RBSalzburg’s reputation and ranking in Europe.
A few other fringe players were allowed to leave too. Koki Sakaguchi never did quite kick on and make a break through at right back after his free transfer from our Japanese affiliate, Sanfrecce. The Japanese international leaves for Bremen, despite me being happy to keep him to appease our fans over in Japan. Aßmus and Giantsopoulos (great name) are newgens who just weren’t quite good enough to make the move to the first team squad just now, so leave the club with buy back clauses installed incase they do progress well in the next few seasons.
We’ve bloody done it.
We managed to go unbeaten over the course of the second half of the season, and that means that we’ve gone the entire league season unbeaten! A brilliant achievement and the first time I’ve managed to do it for ages on FM.
A few close shaves as the season progressed, especially those four consecutive 0-0 draws. I thought we’d never score a league goal again at that point, but we bounced back with a bang, firing five past Gladbach.
Our results were solid, if unspectacular, but we were playing some brilliant football along the way. Dominating matches. Creating chances. But not necessarily always putting them away, or earning three points. Our lead at the halfway mark was four points, at the end of the season, Bayern had overtaken Dortmund to finish in 2nd. Just the 13 points behind us though. One extra point clear compared to last season’s league win, and an extra three points on the board, transferring our three defeats from last season into three draws this season.
On the goals front we scored three less compared to the season before, but managed to concede five less which I’m really happy with. The defence looked solid at times. Untroubled on a lot of occasions, but comfortable enough to deal with any danger.
Just the three teams qualifying for the Champions League now from the Bundesliga. That’s down to Bayern and Dortmund’s, and every other German team qualifying for European football, really not holding their end of the bargain. No German team has made it to any European final except for us, and Bayern haven’t made it past the 1st knockout round of the Champions League for the last three seasons. Time to go Ancelotti.
Our fourth consecutive DFB-Pokal win to go with our third consecutive Bundesliga win. Our run to the final was fairly comprehensive. An easy looking quarter, semi and final on paper. Nurnberg had knocked out Dortmund in the other semi final, so we had to be careful. Always good to bring the Pokal home to Leipzig.
We’d performed brilliantly in the Champions League group stage, winning six from six and not conceding a goal.
We carried this form into the knockout phase. First up, overcoming Premier League champions from the previous season, Man City. They’ve been familiar foes for us, as have most English teams to be honest, as I said in the winter break update post.
Talking of English clubs, it’d be Arsenal we’d meet in the quarter final. The only team to beat us so far at that point of the season, they almost did it again in the first leg. It took a Naby Keita 90th minute equaliser to make it 2-2 and give us two vital away goals to take back to Leipzig. Young Portuguese wonderkid left back, Hugo Mariano, scored a goal of the season contender to seal the 2-0 win in the second leg.
Our place in the final was all but secured in the first leg of the semi, as we met a non-English team for what felt like the first time in years. A comprehensive 3-0 win at home against Inter meant we just had to keep things tight in Milan. We did, and guess what country our opponents in the final come from? Got it in one.
We lift our second consecutive Champions League trophy! Goals from Kai Havertz and Oliver Burke’s second goal in as many Champions League final appearances seals the win against Manchester United, who beat us in the 2017/18 Europa League final, coincidentally.
That Champions League win means that we’ve won an incredible five trophies this season.
I’d be 100% happy, if I wasn’t thinking back to that ridiculous European Super Cup defeat against Arsenal at the start of the season! Argh. We dominated them. They had 10 men. We scored an OG. It would have been a completely unbeaten season in all competitions!
I’m going to do a post introducing you to the players that made the invincible season happen, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime though, 2021/22 belonged to one man. Timo Werner, and the #Timouptop approach I wrote about at the halfway stage of the season.
Timo firmly cemented his place in my heart with a brilliant season way back in season 2 of the save. He scored 28 goals and laid on 12 assists over the course of the season, playing as a shadow striker behind a targetman. This season however, he was deployed as our main man up top. He started 43 matches, made 2 sub appearances, assisted 19 times and scored a whopping 31 goals. The striker role got changed to a deep lying forward on support this season, and it was really effective.
Over the course of the season, so many records fell. Timo broke the records for most goals in a season, most league goals in a season and he became RBL’s all time record league goalscorer. He was named Bundesliga player of the year, was in the Bundesliga team of the year, the Champions League best 11, and won the European Golden Shoe. Insert fire emoji here.
A little update on the club front as a whole then. After our exploits over season 6, we’re now the most reputable club in world football. Considering at the end of season 2, we were only ranked 16th in the most reputable teams in Germany, that’s a pretty ridiculous rise.
Looking back now, it’s funny that our run to the Europa League final in season 2 saw us shoot up the European club coefficients to 49th. Manchester United, Barcelona, PSG and Arsenal are ahead of us, but our consecutive CL wins see us currently in 5th position there now too.
We were due to move in to the new 59,931 (couldn’t they have just gone for 60k) capacity RBLeipzig stadium over the summer, but it was pushed back to the end of October now.
We now have superb training facilities (upgrade to state of the art will be complete in November), top youth facilities, exceptional junior coaching and extensive youth recruitment. We’re all set to produce some quality young talent, and develop them into the best possible players for the first team squad.
Philipp Lahm’s Red Bull Salzburg side took home another domestic double. His third in as many seasons at the club. The league was far closer than it should have been at one stage of the season, as the club finished just four points clear of Rapid. Also for the second consecutive season, RBS were drawn into a ridiculously tough looking Champions League group, after overcoming Steaua and Olympiakos in the qualifying rounds. Manchester City, Atletico and Ajax. We’d lost five from five until the last group match in the Amsterdam ArenA, where we dominated Ajax 4-0 for Lahm’s first ever group stage win in the competition. Praying for a slightly kinder group next season.
The trio of Andrija Zivkovic, Jeremie Boga and Egyptian newgen, Omar el Ashry scored a total of 56 goals between them. A great return.
A shift in tactic is on the cards for RBS next season. Lahm wants to utilise his slight abundance in attacking options and go two up front. A 4-3-1-2 is in the pipeline.
We’ve hit the magical number of 1,000 people having chosen to join #FMSlack since it started up at the beginning of 2017. That is bloody awesome if I don’t say so myself. If you want to join too and see what all of the fuss is about, keep checking out my timeline on Twitter where I post quick invite links to join regularly, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll set you up with access.