FM17 is still a thing! We might have had the first bit of proper FM18 info drip-fed to us, and we might well and truly be in the major lull of FMing before the new game is released, but I’m back with another update from my RB save.
If you missed the Winterpause update, we were riding high and competing on all fronts. The UEFA Super Cup, the DFL-Supercup and the Club World Cup had all already been won. We’d progressed in the Champions League, advanced in the DFB-Pokal (probably my favourite competition on this year’s game) and were unbeaten in the Bundesliga.
Could we go one better than last season and complete the clean sweep? Keep reading to find out!
My policy of only signing players aged 24 or under remains, as it has done throughout the save so far. I’ve said it before that I don’t like to do too much activity in January, but I can’t help dipping my toes into the transfer market.
Benhur, Dijks, Pejcic and Bakker come in to supplement the under 19 squad. They need work, but they look promising. Dijks and Bakker I’d especially been targeting for a while, as I don’t feel I’ve raided the Netherlands nearly enough as I should have done for players so far on FM17.
I might have splashed out a little too much on Barreras, £10m, but I like the look of him. He’s still only 20, he’s Mexican (it’s been a very good hunting ground for me so far on the game this year) and he’s got excellent balance, vision, technique and a first touch. He should slot nicely, as a rotation option, into that three behind our striker.
A few outgoings to note. Timo’s emergence as our main man up top (#Timouptop) saw the Dada’s first team chances reduced. Off he goes to Red Bull London, in the first deal involving our newest club in the RBRevolution. Benhur arrived from Gremio on the first day of the January window, and off he went to Kaiserslautern on deadline day to get some first team experience in his new country.
Dusan Vlahovic eh. He arrived as a bright eyed youngster from Partizan for £850k in 2017/18. He had a great loan the season after with Stuttgart, but really failed to make any impact at all on the first team upon returning. I persisted and persisted, and finally decided to sell. Massive thanks to Liverpool for shelling out a potential fee of £24m. Kaching.
We arrived back from the break over winter like a house on fire. Timo was literally the human embodiment of the fire emoji. Four goals in a 5-0 home win against Bayern, a hattrick in a 7-0 demolition of Hamburg plus another one in a 7-1 thumping of Mainz. In the last five matches of the league campaign though, we just fell flat. Stumbling over the line. Losing our ability to go another full league season unbeaten. The attack was impotent, we couldn’t break teams down. It was almost like my game knew that FM18 was on the way! “You must start to lose interest and get the new game…”
That said, the form up until that point managed to secure us a fourth consecutive Bundesliga.
Raging at that defeat, but it did enable Stuttgart to go on a end of season run to stay up, which is alright I guess. Our defence conceded the exact same number of goals as last season, but a 14 goal increase in our goals scored column isn’t too bad at all. Those two seven goal showings obviously helping things there.
Fun fact time. In each of our four Bundesliga winning campaigns, we’ve won 24 of our 34 matches.
We’ve won the Pokal four times in a row, could we win it for a fifth?
Again, we stumbled to it though. 1-0 wins in the quarter, semi and final. No team had won the Pokal three times in a row before. That’s five consecutive years now for RBLeipzig.
And now for the sad news. Things aren’t always positive all of the time on Football Manager, as most of you will know…
They’ll be no third consecutive Champions League. While we’ve been focusing on young talent, PSG have been building a force capable of dominating. Tony Martial is outrageous, Kingsley Coman is scary, Renato Sanches pulls the strings, Saul is now a classy centre-back and a £72m-rated Spanish newgen striker scores the goals. They won it in the 2019/20 season, and they’ve regained the crown this season, beating us in the process. The way they did it?
On reflection, they deserved it. We’d hit our bad patch, Timo was off form, and our only goal over the two legs came from a Lemar wonder free kick. None of the players mentioned above scored goals in either leg though. It was a Portuguese newgen that downed us. We dominated possession in both matches, but we just couldn’t turn that into good enough chances to score. It was a classic Mourinho performance. They beat United 4-2 in the final.
This section, again, is very predictable! Here’s the standouts from this season.
Do we overlook the run of nine games without scoring in the run up to the end of the season? Of course we do. Timo had yet another brilliant season. He hit 35 goals in all competitions, beating last year’s total of 31. As mentioned already, those goals against Bayern, Hamburg and Mainz were just ridiculous. Everything he hit went in. He played one less league game compared to last season, and scored one more. Breaking his own record for league goals scored in a season for the club. Remarkably, it wasn’t enough to finish top league scorer, as he was beaten by Hamburg’s 22-year-old Belgian newgen, Luis Baert (I want him, I’m greedy).
A month on the sidelines hampered Lemar’s overall output for the season, which really just says more about the standards I’ve got set for him. He broke the average rating over the season for the club, 7.78, hit 15 goals and laid on 15 assists. Down from 20 and 23 last season. He’s still a force to be reckoned with, his combo of acceleration and agility with that runs with ball often trait. Give him the ball and he gets us up the park, countering quickly. He actually was World Player of the Year runner up in 2022, something I forgot to mention in my winter break update. His value is pushing £50m now, frightening.
My countryman is still doing the business for us. He arguably had his best season yet, and is now deemed a “world-class winger”. 15 goals and 12 assists from the shadow striker slot on the right of our AMC three. His progression, alongside the clubs rise, has been awesome to follow along with.
The even more scary thing is, Werner, Lemar and Burke are all only just hitting the peak of their ability. That 26/27 age bracket.
Kai came of age this season. He’d been good so far, this season he was great. An integral part of the side, scoring 11 goals and assisting six from the central slot of the AMC three. Along with Timo, Havertz is now a regular in die Nationalmannschaft, and I love that. It’s really important we keep a good chunk of the side German.
The Red Bull Revolution
Red Bull Salzburg had secured European football after Christmas for the first time since I’d been in charge there. We defeated Feyenoord and Braga on the way to losing against Napoli in the Europa League quarter final. They had six shots on target over the two legs, and scored five of them in a 5-2 aggregate win. Cheers FM. All in all, I should be pleased with that.
Our fourth consecutive domestic double was won. The most comfortable we’ve been in the league so far, with a 13 point cushion ahead of second placed Sturm Graz. It’s time to overhaul the squad and cash in on some of the talents we’ve been nurturing over the last couple of seasons though.
I didn’t update on Red Bull London (RBLDN) at the halfway mark (because I was going to do a separate post, then couldn’t be arsed), so here comes a round-up of Red Bull’s first season in England. We very quickly settled on our best 11, and those 11 players all played over 2,500 minutes over the season. A front four (we, of course, play the same way as the other RB sides) of Steven Bergwijn (16/6), Bart Ramselaar (14/12), Pione Sisto (20/13) and Jonathan Calleri (17/17) hit 67 goals between them, and assisted 48 times. Special mentions for Will Hughes and Kris Ajer for keeping the engine running from the CM slots too. Ajer, in particular, was solid, after signing in the summer for £8.75m from PSG.
The aim was to qualify for Europe, settling for at least the Europa League and hopefully winning more than we didn’t. We surpassed that aim, finishing 4th in the Premier League and qualifying for the Champions League qualifying round! A brilliant achievement in RB’s first season in English football, promoting the RB brand.
And so ends my seventh season in charge of RasenBallsport Leipzig, my fourth at RBSalzburg and my first at RBLDN. As we all know, FM18 is on the way, can I complete an eighth season? Am I still motivated to? The answer to the latter is definitely yes. I’d love to round the save off with another Champions League win, and I feel like I’ve still got so much potential to move players around within the RB club family and there’s so much young talent still to come through in Leipzig, specifically. The former? I’m really not sure I’ll have the time and be able to fire through another season with all three clubs. Which club will suffer and potentially be moved to “on holiday mode”? I’m not sure! If this is the end of the save, it’s been an absolute blast and I’ll definitely be back with my FM17 round-up post, similar to my one from last season.