Welcome back. Champions League football has returned to Wolfsburg. My first full season in charge was a huge success, 4th place in the Bundesliga and a whole raft of nations ticked off in the challenge. Money though is tighter than it has been, gone are the big budgets, we have £30m to spend so we really need to sell some of our lads who I don’t need challenge-wise to be able to bring in newer, better players.
What an absolutely amazing run we had in the German Cup, yeah OK we missed out on any of the big boys but who cares! It started with the customary easy away tie against a lower league side and we absolutely battered them 11-0!! A perfect opening game for the challenge as well (more on that later), we then edged past Hamburg before beating ex-side Viktoria Berlin, Union Berlin and then FC Koln to get ourselves to the final!
By this point Dortmund, Bayern and Leipzig were all out! The perfect opportunity for my first piece of major silerware in the challenge as we faced Eintracht Frankfurt in the final.
A game we should win and win it we did! A crap first half but in the second 45 we turned on the style to win the game 3-0!
GERMAN CUP WINNERS! Fantastic.
Now to Europe and we were handed a really easy looking group, and it was as easy as expected bar 1 game. 4 wins, 1 draw and a hammering by Benfica, that was enough though for us to top the group.
Then came a one of those runs that will live long in the memory. In the Last 16 we faced Porto, 1-1 in the first leg away, we then scored twice in the first half in the home leg and even though Porto scored late on we had qualified for the quarters.
Where we would face Premier League champions Manchester United. First leg at home this time, we took the lead twice but Man Utd came back both times to level the tie at 2-2. Then came the return trip to Old Trafford and what happened next will live long in the memory. We scored twice in the opening 7 minutes and went in at half time 4-0 up!!!!! Absolutely incredible, no more goals in the game but we had gone to the Premier League champs own back yard and annihilated them!
Into the semis where next up would face Spanish champs Barcelona and this time it was to be one step too far. A solid 1-1 draw in the home leg but this time, going to their backyard wasn’t as easy as we lost the game 3-0.
What an absolutley amazing run though!!!
Now to the league and we performed amazing from the off. The odd defeat every 3 or 4 games though would scupper any hopes we had of challenging for the title. We never got close to Bayern or Dortmund but never looked in trouble of dropping out the top 4.
As we got to the end of the year we sat comfortably in 3rd place with only 3 defeats in the opening 17 games.
Form picked up in the New Year with both January and February unbeaten, a defeat to Bayern in March totally ended our chances of an unlikely title push and then with games coming thick and fast due to Europe our form dipped in April with 2 losses from 4 games. Our overall good form though meant with 2 games to go we had sewn up another season of Champions League football. We won our final 2 games and that meant we had ended 3rd, a place higher than last season and above RB Leipzig.
Still though, a huge gap to Bayern and Dortmund, getting close to them is going to be very very tough.
Nations Ticked Off
Nation 102 – Bulgaria
The most expensive signing of the Summer, defender Nedyalko Valev came in to play right back and was incredible. He scored and got a 10 rating in the 11-0 win in th German Cup over Bayern HOF. One of many many players to do that. The game itself helped me ticked off 9 players, whether that was the rating, a goal or both! Over the season Valev played 33 times.
Nation 103 – Republic of Ireland
A £475k acquisition from Shamrock, Winger/Striker Sean Fogerty came in, an amazingly cheap deal for someone who looks realy good. He scored and got a 10 in the 11-0 cup win and over the season played 29 times (18 of those as a sub) and scored 10 goals.
Nation 104 – Paraguay
Signed from Bayern for £2.7m, Omar Alderete came in to play either left back of centre back. He started slowly but eventually scored and got a 7.9 rating in the 3-0 win over Union Berlin in late August. He played 38 times during the season and was decent.
Nation 105 – Algeria
A loan signing from Hertha Berlin, Striker Mohamed Benchouia was decent when called upon, he go a 9.7 in the 11-0 German Cup win but failed to score, it took him until mid-September to grab his first goal in the 5-1 win over Stuttgart. 16 starts, 16 sub appearances, 11 goals.
Nation 106 – Greece
What a player this lad is! Defender Telis Fortounis signed from AEK for £10.75m, he was voted 2nd in the NxGn top 50 wonderkids, not sure he’s that good but when he played he was solid. He grabbed a 7.9 rating in the 6-0 win over Gladbach in October and then scored his first goal in the 3-2 win over Hamburg later that month. Over the season he played 35 times and was key to our success.
Nation 107 – Vietnam
Probsbly the best Vietnamese player I could bring in, Mai Thanh Hai came in from Jeonbuk for £675k. He got a 9.0 rating in the 11-0 cup win and then scored his first goal in the 3-1 win over Benfica.
Nation 108 – Ecuador
Gustavo Armijos came in from Southampton for £2.5m, the Winger scored and got a 9.1 rating in the 4-0 win over Mainz. Over the season he scored 8 times in 31 appearances. He ended as the clubs young player of the season.
Nation 109 – Cape Verde Islands
Another decent young player and probably the best player I could bring in from Cape Verde, Striker Euclides Cruz joined for £12.25m from Benfica. He scored and got an 8.4 rating by in the 11-0 cup win and over the season played 10 times scoring 3 goals.
Nation 110 – Australia
Matt Parkes came in from Wellington Pheonix for £1.2m. A really good signing for a cheap fee. He also scored in the 11-0 cup win and got a 10 rating. He played 14 times over the season.
Nation 111 – Israel
Right Back Oz Hazan joined from Frankfurt for £3m, another decent, young player who started well. He got an 8.2 in the 11-0 cup win and then scored his first goal in the 2-1 loss to Werder Bremen. He made 16 appearances over the season.
Nation 112 – Trinidad and Tobago
Signed on a whim, not the best looking player but personally I felt Levi Garcia had enough in him to tick off his nation. Signed from AEK for £5.5m. He scored and got a 10 in the 11-0 cup win but then was out with numerous injuries, he eventually played his 10th game near the end of the season. 14 appearances overall, scoring 6 times.
Nation 113 – Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Al-Dossari came in from Al-Ittihad for £5m, The right sided player started well, getting an 8.2 in the 11-0 cup win but, after playing so many times throughout the season eventually scored a penalty in mid-February! It took forever and to be honest he was bloody awful most of the time.
Nation 114 – Netherlands
A Winter signing and what a signing it was! Bas Post came in from Bayer Leverkusen for £19m and was an instant hit. He scored on his debut, a 2-2 draw against Mainz and then got a 7.8 rating in the next match. He was key to our good end of season and grabbed a hat-trick in that 4-0 win at Old Trafford. Overall he made 27 appearances, scoring 16 times. The most at the club this season.
Absolutely amazing! 13 nations ticked off, some obscure ones along the way as well. This is the first season where I’ve genuinely felt the signings improved the squad and although the squad was way too big meaning I struggled with the Champions League registration I felt I balanced the side well. The 11-0 cup win helped though, giving me an amazing start, once again, like last season, I ticked off nearly every nation in my squad by January which helped our end of season form as I could just pick my best team.
114 down! That just over 50% of the way!
And here for your perusal is the whole squad.
A few other players to speak about.
Firstly is defender Frederik Wilschrey, signed last season for £10m he ended as the clubs player of the season. He made over 40 appearances over the season, averaging 7.41.
Mario Forero could’ve been sold in the Summer but I felt he offered us a good option as and when required. He played 35 times, getting 11 assists, the most at the club this season.
Another fantastic season down, 3rd place is amazing but we still have some way to go before we catch up Dortmund and Bayern.
With so many nations ticked off once again there is bound to be another Summer of buying and selling ahead. Budgets though again are poor. The bank balance is healthy, we end with nearly £140m in the coffers but for some reason the board are reluctant to give me much money to spend.
£35m to spend on transfers and £1.5m per week on wages, this is a £300k drop on last season. If we are to bring in new players to help with the challenge we either need to look at free transfers, cheap loans and then maybe a couple of expensive players or I need to sell a lot of my key men to raise funds to then go out and buy some similar quality players.
It’s going to be a Summer where I have to balance the squad, keep the key men around but ship out everyone else. Next season the squad should be smaller, we have way too many players around who aren’t playing and aren’t needed and taking up wages. Get rid of them and it frees up space to bring in another 9 or 10 players to help with the challenge.
Anyway that’s all from me for now.
Thanks for reading.
Doing an amazing job checking off these nations. Bas Post feels like Bas Dost but you’ve bought off wish