Borussia Moenchengladbach Season '13-14
So, after two 3rd placed finishes, I felt this season a title charge had to be the aim. The frontline had improved enough to justify it, and allied to a continually strong defence, we shouldn't lose too many games. That was aided with runaway previous Champions Dortmund suffering a calamitous decline; the sale of Barrios to Bayern was an odd one last season, and this campaign they played Balotelli and Adam Johnson all the time, and one or two other underperformers. They started badly and were never a factor, Gotze injured for long stretches of the season.
Opening the campaign slowly with one win in the first four games, including a 0-1 loss at Bayern thanks to playing 88mins with 10-men after Nyom's red card, we picked up form after a handful of games, once the new players began to settle. Towards the halfway point of the campaign we were in that rare 'FM Zone' where your team is in such good form every fixture looks a victory. Papiss Cisse was the catalyst; finding his feet in the back end of his debut season, this campaign he performed in a vein of form like the real one currently. All season; finishing with 31 goals in 32 apps.
January arrived, but I was content to make no further strengthening. Except for trying to sign Georgy Gabulov's £2m unprotected contract for the season end. I lacked the funds so asked the board to negotiate for me; bizarrely they paid £7m and immediately
. It was actually a defining deal, as Gabulov was brilliant and a first team regular within five games. Possessing a wicked long shot and ability to sneak unnoticed into the box, he added to the squad what I'd lost through Arango's bit part role.
The CL was the inverse of last season. Drawn into a group of Lyon, Real Madrid and Olympiakos, losing 3 of the first 4 games. The one win was 2-1 at home to Madrid, netting twice in the last ten minutes. However, a routine win at home to Olympiakos on MD5 actually had me in 2nd on 6pts, ahead of Real Madrid of goal diff. Anything other than defeat at the Bernabeu would see me through. A tall order, yet the team produced their best performance in 3 seasons at BMG. Sitting deep on the counter with a stand-off instruction, Madrid couldn't get near the goal. Ter-Stegen kept out the inevitable long shots, and we took over in the 2nd half, creating no less than five clear-cut chances, missing a penalty, and still winning 2-0.
The CL dream ended yet again in the knockout round. Winning 3-2 at home to a super-strong Porto team - previous champions - but being murdered 0-3 in Portugal.
Defeat in the DFB-Pokal Cup semi at Frankfurt meant we finished the season with no other commitments, committing solely to the title. 13 wins in the 17 games post winter-break had burnt off all competition, and we even had the luxury of a couple of 2-3 defeats at Kaiserslautern and Leverkusen and still won the title with 3 games to spare, a huge 11pts ahead of Bayern.
A brilliant campaign overall, picking up 14pts more than my second season. In addition to Cisse's Golden Boot winning 31 goals, Fernando finished with 15 in 21 apps, Reynaldo 14 in 24. And goals were dotted all over the squad, most of the defence chipping in, and also a number from the less-attacking midfielders. A stable Zimmermann-Dante-Neustadter-Nyom defence the kingmaker to the joint tightest defence in the Bundesliga.Season '14-15 Pre-Season
The World Cup presented a first opportunity to delve into International management, in the inevitable fallout of underperformance. There were a handful of positions available, both England and Switzerland actively headhunting me. I liked the idea of a lightning quick Walcott/Hoilett tandom on the wings - and they possess some great youngsters - but England don't inspire me at all. Instead I chose Switzerland; I had a few of their players on my shortlist, motivated also by the chance to take a 'smaller nation' to glory (until I realised Switzerland were actually no.6 in the world, and expectations would probably be somewhat higher!).
At club level, again I had a range of opportunities, but I've never had a career FM game and BMG is too enjoyable to change that. I wanted to keep squad alterations to a minimum, but still managed to make a few acquisitions. The most impressive was a Spanish regen DM, Juan Maria Ferraces
, on a Bosman from Barcelona. He's basically a combo of Busquets and Fabregas at 19
The rest of the signings were pure overkill; David Alaba
became unhappy at Bayern. Too good an opportunity to pass up, £7.75m secured his signature. I had pre-agreed Julian Draxler
from Schalke, £3.6m. My last one was a usual project; after moving to Liverpool for £9.75m, Carlos Vela
had had an insipid two years, making only 17 apps and then a paltry 7 on loan to Juventus. This saddened me, so in he came at £4.6m. I'd started using the 41221 with greater frequency on the road, so at least he presented another option to Reus/Reynaldo on the flanks, as well as being perfectly adaptable to the home 433 as a wide forward or poacher.
A range of regen youngsters were also added, including a couple of 15 and 16 year old German super-beasts. I've grown to dislike regen-dominated games somehow, so the next two years will be the most enjoyable period of this file, before they start to come through en-masse.
I still didn't manage to make any large sales, but crucially shifted on some squad deadwood; Kamarouskiy £2.2m to Freiburg, and Anderson Bamba joining him for £1.7m. Gartner joined Karlsruhe for £1.8m, by now I had too many talented young AM's to bring him through.
In total I spent £20m, recouping £8m. And the prizemoney from the title win and another CL Knockout has the bank balance at a healthy £34m.
Perhaps crucially I didn't need
to make any major sales. After promising him 'one more season' to grow the club, the title success had removed Ter-Stegen's desire to join a bigger team. The only problem spot is with Craig Gordon, becoming frustrated with a lack of opportunity as the no.2