So we’ve come, to the end of the road.
Welcome the finale of “No one likes us…”. What a Football Manager save this has been, and if you want to read about me emotionally reminiscing about what’s happened during it, do check out my FM17 summary post.
No time for emotion right now though. There’s business to tend to. At the halfway point of season eight we were flying domestically. 14 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, and a fifth consecutive title was all but wrapped up. The main reason for me continuing on this save into it’s eighth season though was the Champions League. I craved a third win of the jug-eared trophy. The theme whirred in my brain as PSG defeated us in last season’s semi final. I have to be celebrating come the end of the season.
Before we get into the match action, transfers. Not too much to note here as the save winds down.
Luciano Rolon arrived for £5.5m in the summer window from River, started the season injured and was then disappointed to not make the Champions League squad. I think it’s one of the quickest turnarounds of a player I’ve had on any FM, and out he goes to Newcastle. Delighted to make a bit of money on him despite him playing zero minutes of football for us. Piotr Orlowski ends the save as being the only player to play for all three managed Red Bull clubs. RBLDN sold Steven Bergwijn to Man Utd, so were light on attacking midfield options. Love a bit of tactical loaning. Out goes Trabelsi for some first team football at Hertha. Mainly due to the arrival of this man…
Only one incoming transfer in January. I think you might have heard of him.
Facundo Colidio (Colidigol) arrives from Benfica for a potential fee of £34m. Two thoughts went into this transfer. The first, our exploits in the Champions League meant it’d be good to have a bit of squad depth to rest Timo and have a quality replacement for him. The second, I’ve seen so many people talking about him on this year’s game, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to manage him. Even if it will just be for 6 months or so.
An almost perfect second half of the season led us to our fifth consecutive Bundesliga title. Colidigol started his RBL career on fire, with three goals in his first three games, and ended the season with seven overall from 14 matches. Not bad at all for the Argentine wonderkid. Lemar was ridiculous, as ever. A shoutout to Diallo, the young German wonderkid, who bagged three goals in four of the last league games. And a big shout to Oliver Burke. A hattrick for my fellow countryman in my last league match in charge of the club. He’s scored some massive goals for us, and for him to do that, and score my last league goal too, tears.
Great to have such a dominant domestic season in my final season at the club. Another undefeated season, my second at the club. A record number of wins, a record Bundesliga points total, the highest number of goals scored so far in all eight seasons, and only Bayern in 2018/19 conceded less goals than us. Poor Bayern, they’ll be no European football next season for the previous giants. Thomas Tuchel took over towards the end of the season as Paulo Fonseca, who came in at the beginning of the season, was sacked.
About as comprehensive as you can get. We’ve won 36 DFB-Pokal matches in a row now. What a run. We played brilliantly in the final against a very good Hamburg side. My sixth consecutive win of this competition. It’s been very kind to me. Just realised this section reads like a small child wrote it, but I’m trying to get on to the epic stuff here!
Down to the main reason why I chose to continue the save into season eight. The holy grail.
Timo hitting a double in the Bernabeu had me confident going into the home leg, where we professionally saw off Real Madrid in the first knockout round. A 0-0 stalemate at home to Arsenal had me slightly worried. We’ve got previous against LvG’s Gunners, but thankfully goals from Timo and Lemar at the Emirates took us into the semi final.
The final four read RBL, Barcelona, PSG and Man Utd, and truth be told, I was happy to be drawn against Barca. The first leg at the Camp Nou was quite frankly one of the most ridiculous matches I’ve had in the save so far! We were 2-0 down, got it back to 2-2, went 3-2 down, back to 3-3, 4-3 down then scored 2 in the last 15 minutes to make it 5-4. The five away goals meant we had to just stay solid at home, and more goals from Timo and Lemar secured our avenue to the final. Where, as fate would have it, we’d meet our foes. Jose’s PSG. The team that beat us in last year’s CL semi final and drove me on to doing an eighth season. Oh, how Football Manager throws up natural narratives like this.
But it had me nervous. It was to be the last ever match in my entire save. Could I end it by beating PSG and winning a third Champions League trophy?
Jaaaaaaaaa! And in our home nation (albeit in Dortmund). I was “shitting a brick” so to speak going into the match, and when the calls started for me to live-Slack it, I started to feel worse. But I had to, and I’m glad I did. Brilliant to have so many behind me on a huge occasion, and I was delighted we managed to bring home the trophy for a third time in this save. PSG were quite dangerous, but we were ruthless with our chances. A first half Timo double, including a brilliant counter-corner goal, gave us one of those tricky half time leads. 2-0 but it most certainly wasn’t over. It wasn’t, until Burkey stepped up to score another Champions League final goal, his third in three successive RBL final appearances. We’d managed to avenge last season’s defeat and win a third Champions League for the club, in four seasons nonetheless.
Or what we should have really renamed to the Lemar, Timo and Burkey section.
He only went and won the Balon d’Or! The first time one of my players has ever won it (on any FM I think!). He also won the Bundesliga Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year. He finished as top scorer in the league and came second in the assists charts too. He won Champions League Best Goal, Best Player in Europe and was in both the CL and BuLi Team’s of the Year. Oh, and he ended the season with 34 goals, 20 assists and an average rating of 8.14 from 37 starts and 6 sub appearances. Not so bad for a free transfer a few seasons back…
Timo’s 35 goal season last season was always going to be hard for him to match, he was literally in flames at certain points. It’s a measure of the man when you look at him scoring 25 goals and assisting 14 and thinking he’s had a bit of an off season. I don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with the fact that I won’t be managing Timo anymore…
And if that’s how sad I am about leaving Timo behind, then bloody hell. Hold me while I break down thinking about Burkey. Similarly to Timo, he’s had better seasons. A 10 goal and 10 assist return was okay, but not great. But for him to step up and score a hattrick in my final Bundesliga match and score his third goal in three Champions League finals, I couldn’t not single him out. Now worth a whopping £50m, I wonder if he’ll lead Scotland to glory in the 2024 European Championships…unlikely. Cheerio, Oliver. Until we meet again.
The Red Bull Revolution
The only word to sum up both RBSalzburg and RBLondon’s seasons is “wow”.
Starting with RBLDN, we won the Premier League!! A remarkable achievement in RB’s second season at the club, and an improvement on last season’s fourth place finish. Pione Sisto, Jonathan Calleri and Bart Ramselaar led the way in terms of performances again this season, with young Italian newgen signing from Schalke, Ricardo Mazzarella, doing very well too. It was always quite close and I was never confident it’d actually happen, but it did!
Nothing to note in any cup competitions in London though. PSG put us out of the Champions League 1st knockout on their way to the final to, of course, be beaten by us. Great to round off my FM17 gametime by securing a Premier League win though.
If you thought RBLDN winning the Premier League was mad, what about RBS winning the Europa League? Yes, the Europa League! Red Bull have revolutionised European football and two of the clubs sit atop the tree as champions of the continental competitions.
Juventus, Valencia, Inter and PSV were defeated en route to the final, where a Caparroz goal was enough to overcome Europa League specialists, Sevilla, and win the trophy. Massive shoutout to FMFutbolManager’s contain/very fluid tip, which was the catalyst for this incredible run. It’s served us very well with RBS in European competition.
Alongside that huge trophy win, RBS secured another domestic double (fifth in a row), meaning they won the treble this season!
The image below sums up the 2023/24 season for the Red Bull clubs. Just amazing.
I’ve managed to lead RBLeipzig from being a newly promoted Bundesliga club to one of the best teams in world football. Albeit with a little help from our fizzy drink owners. It’d be virtually impossible for me to go through every single thing that’s happened in the save. From what I saw as overachieving in the first few seasons, tasting defeat in the Europa League final in season two, to our first piece of silverware, winning the DFB-Pokal in season three. Five consecutive Bundesliga wins followed, with a couple of Champions League wins thrown in for good measure too, of course, as you’ve just read, rounded off by gaining revenge on PSG in the final game of the save.
Marcel Sabitzer and Emil Forsberg played their parts in the early seasons. Willi Orban captained the club to so many of the early successes. Yussuf Poulsen performed admirably as our targetman and I thought I’d uncovered the next star when Renat Dadachov broke into the team initially. Players who’ve joined, none more so than Thomas Lemar, who I managed to a Balon d’Or victory. Walid Harbaoui, the best newgen I’ll ever find and I’ll ever have. If you’ve played FM17, you’ll know that Bayern are in good hands when Neuer retires, because Christian Fruchtl is ready to step into his gloves. Robert and Jesus Figueroa have been rocks in central defence, a partnership made in heaven. To the players that’ve been with me since the start. Lukas Klostermann, the colossus at right back. Naby Keita, who kept us going most of the time. Finally, what else can I say about Oliver Burke and Timo Werner?
It’s the players I’ll miss the most. What a save. What a game FM17 has been. I’m looking forward to having you join me for more on FM18.