Welcome back. Another season in Germany is over with Viktoria Berlin, last season was another decent one on the pitch, challenge-wise though it could’ve been better. Now is the time to kick on, financially we need to go up, let’s hope I can balance the challenge and the need for a promotion push.
Before I go through the nations I’ve ticked off let’s take a look and see if I could defy the odds and get us into the 2.Bundesliga.
Well it started much better than it had done the previous 2 seasons, we opened with 2 draws before 3 straight wins but then the inconsistancies started once again. We went through September, October and November and could not string a decent run together. We never won more than twice in a row but also never lost more than once. December continued that theme with 2 defeats and 2 wins but we went into the New Year in 3rd place, well in with a shout of promotion.
A strong second half of the season was needed and boy did it go well. Over the final 5 months of the season we only lost 4 times. The promotion push was on and at points we looked like nicking the 2nd automatic spot, keeping us away from the playoff spot (3rd) but a late run of inconsistent results put pay to that and as the season drew to a close we had fallen away from the top 2 but had claimed a spot in promotion/relegation playoff.
A fantastic season, our highest finish and most points but now we had a 2-legged tie against the team that had ended 18th in 2.Bundesliga, win it and we gain promotion.
Duisburg stood in our way, a majorly tough ask and so it proved to be as we lost the home tie 2-1, we did take the lead but they pegged us back with goals either side of the half time whistle. A huge turnaround was needed in the 2nd leg.
We started really well, an early goal levelled the tie but as we went for the win we got picked off, 12 minutes into the 2nd half Duisburg scored, we needed to go for it now but couldn’t find a way through. Duisburg missed a penalty late on and they held firm, we just couldn’t create that 1 big chance.
Absolutely devastating. We had come so close to doing the unthinakble. For a team expected to end in the relegation spots we had done amazingly to just miss out on promotion.
Next season we are going up!!!!
A Challenge Tweak
Now to a little tweak I have made to the challenge, during the opening half of this season it was becoming clearer and clearer that getting a POTM was totally random and it was becoming incredibly frustrating. I would have a guy score twice, assist once, make 4 chances and get an 8.1 but my left back who did nothing bar create 2 chances also got an 8.1 and somehow won POTM.
My patience was wearing thin and at points I was wondering why I was bothering, something had to change and after a chat with a few people close to me I decided to alter what I needed to tick off.
So instead of winning POTM I now need a player from every nation to get at least a 7.5 in a game. 7.5 for this level is achievable but not easy. In most games players get less than that even if they win but in games where someone plays well it tends to be around 7.5-8.
When I move up the leagues I may increase that but for now 7.5 seems about right.
With this tweak I then had to trawl back through the past 2 seasons and see if any of my players where I needed them to get POTM to tick off the nation had got over 7.5. There were 10 nations that missed out on a POTM last season, 4 of those did get a 7.5+.
Nations Ticked Off 22/23
Nation 18 – Dominican Republic
Winger/Striker Jonathan Fana had already played 10+ games and scored in the previous season, he also got a rating of 7.8 in a 2-0 win over Wurzburger Kickers in August.
Nation 19 – Afghanistan
Full Back Farshad Noor also just needed a 7.5+ rating and he gained this in September of the previous season, an 8.0 in a 2-0 win over Magdeburg.
Nation 20 – Liberia
Midfielder Theo Weeks gained a 7.8 rating in a 3-0 win over FCN B in Mid-October.
Nation 21 – Fiji
And finally Midfielder Leroy Jennings got a rating of 7.7 in a 3-2 win over Dortmund B in Mid-November.
So 4 more nations ticked off last season than I had originally entered. That meant prior to this campaign starting I had ticked off 21 nations.
Now to this season and it went very well!
Nations Ticked Off 23/24
Nation 22 – Macau
Matos Alexandre was here last season, he had already played enough games and had scored but failed to get a 7.5+ rating. It didn’t take him long this season to do it though as he gained an 8.2 in Mid-August in a 3-2 win over Eichstatt. He also scored twice, overall though he wasn’t great and was packed off before the Summer window closed!
Nation 23 – Guinea-Bissau
Central Defender Baba Fernandes was signed last season but due to numerous long term injuries failed to tick anything off. This season though he came back refreshed and started incredibly. He played his 10th game in August and then scored and got a rating of 8.0 in a 3-2 win over Lubeck in early September.
Nation 24 – Bosnia
Now to a new signing, Midfielder Kelvin Ramusovic was brought in on loan for the season and was really good. A definite improvemnt in quality from what I had last time around. Over the season he played 20 times with 13 sub appearances, he scored his first goal in a 2-1 win over Mannheim in August and then got an 8.2 rating in the 3-2 win over Eichstatt in September.
Nation 25 – Croatia
After losing Pudic, who had been here on loan for 2 seasons and him not wanting to return, I needed to bring a new Croatian in to get that 7.5+ rating. Pudic had already played enough games and scored. I brought in Midfielder Amer Hodza on a free transfer and he had a really good season, he played 27 times and got his rating ticked off (8.4) in a 4-0 win over Havelse in early-October.
Nation 26 – Ghana
A Summer loan signing, Ohene Kohl was amazing, the Striker didn’t take long to get going. He scored a hat-trick and got an 8.5 rating in the opening game of the season, a 3-3 draw against 1860 Munchen. He started 11 games over the season and made 11 sub appearances, scoring 9 times.
Nation 27 – Morroco
Another loanee, Elias Kratzer came in to play right back but he could also play right wing. Another really good signing and a key man throughout the season. He played 34 times, scoring his first of 2 goals in a 3-1 defeat to Zwicau in mid-August and then got a 7.6 rating in a 1-0 win over Wurzburger in mid-November.
Nation 28 – Haiti
I had already ticked off the “played 10” and “scored” at Haiti via central defender Jems Geffrard, I decided to bin him off in the Summer and bring in forward Derrick Etienne to tick Haiti off. He was really good whilst he was here and got a rating of 8.5 in a 3-1 win over Wehen in Mid-December.
Nation 29 – New Zealand
I brought wide man/forward Riley Bidois after being recommended by my scouting team. He came in to add some depth to the squad and when he played was really good. Over the season he played 26 times, scoring 7 times, his first goal coming in November in a 2-2 draw against Sandhausen. He then got a 7.9 rating in a 4-2 win over Jena in mid-January. A decent player and one I may look to keep around as he is on a cheap wage.
Nation 30 – Sint Maarten
I signed Jean-Jacques Craane last season but managed to muck up the number of non-EU players I had so I sent him out on loan, this season he came back into the squad and even though he isn’t rated highly he actually did pretty well when called upon. He played 11 times over the season, scoring 3 times, the first 2 of those coming in a 3-1 win over Wehen, he also claimed a rating of 7.8 in the same game.
Nation 31 – Bermuda
A Winter signing, I needed to try and add some goals to my side and decided to bring in Bermudan Nakhi Wells. Boy did he start well! He scored a penalty on his debut, a 4-2 win over Jena and got an 8.5 rating in the next match. Over the season he played 17 times, scoring 5 and also got 7 assists. Amazing!
Nation 32 – Saint Martin
Kevin Zonzon has now been here 2 seasons and my word he is terrible. He played enough games last season for the challenge and scored once but never got a rating high enough to complete it. It took him until the final game of the season to eventually complete it in his 18th attempt! An 8.1 in the 3-2 win over Wehen.
So an amazing season challenge-wise. 11 nations ticked off which takes me up to 32 in total.
Less than 200 to go now!
There are also 4 nations where I’ve ticked off the “played 10” and “scored” but haven’t got the 7.5+ rating. Australia is one of them, I had a player on loan in season 1 but haven’t managed to bring another in. New Caledonia is another, Jakob Jeno was here the last 2 seasons but got recalled in the Winter after a season ending injury. There is also Somalia and North Mariana Islands, both of those players are still in the squad and will stick about until they eventually get that rating!
Now to the key men this season and it was the same faces as the last couple of campaigns.
Firstly is Central Defender Jakob Lewald, he ends as the club player of the season, another brilliant campaign for the lad who played 30 times, scoring 4 and gaining 2 POTMs.
Left Back Deji Beyruether once again ended with the most assists. 13 this time around, another great season and he will be key man moving forward in our promotion push.
And Chris Theisen ended as the clubs top scorer with 10 goals, not bad from midfield. Another big player that i’ll need to keep around.
Here for your perusal is the whole squad.
We were so close this season to promotion, I won’t lie it’s gutting to fall at the final hurdle. This season though is the first one so far where I’ve managed to balance the pressures of the challenge and push for promotion. 11 nations ticked off whilst still challenging is amazing.
Now I look forward to next season and promotion is an absolute must. Financially we need to go up, it is still a total disaster.
A £100k loss over the year but once again this has been made to look not too bad because of the continuous influx of money my chairman puts in.
We end nearly £1m in the red and even with the £1.2m of sponsorship money coming in we will still be near the red zone. Wage’s have been reduced really as much as I can possibly do. We need promotion to bring in that extra revenue.
Promotion will also help the challenge as once I go up to 2.Bundesliga all player restrictions get lifted meaning I won’t have to adhere to the non-EU rule which is in 3.Liga.
So I plan on bringing in the best players I can to get us promoted whilst trying to save money, therefore the challenge may stall a bit this year because I want to improve the team, keep my XI consistent. I will be looking for some players to tick off some nations but my main aim is to “level up” the squad.
Once again however a lot of players are out of contract.
12 players and 3 leaving after their loans expire. I plan to try and keep around a few of them but the ones not rated highly that have already helped me tick off their nation will leave. This frees up some wages meaning I can hopefully bring in 8 or 9 players to go straight into the first team.
Budget-wise the board have been more than generous, a good £3k per week increase in wages and a small transfer budget which I don’t think I’ll need, free’s and loans are the aim of the game for next year.
So let’s hope I can strengthen this side without breaking the bank, let some of the poorer players go and try and get this team challenging for that top 2 automatic spots. It’s going to be tough but we’ve proved we can do it. Bring it on!!!
Thanks for reading.