I had considered making this into two blog postings as I think this might get quite long. Lots and lots of things happened this season, well, for me anyway. I’ll dive right in. Apologies in advance for the millions of screenshots etc. I’ll get through all the admin type stuff first.
Starting with transfers. We needed new defenders and maybe one or two attacking options. Defence was the most important part of the team to improve, so my focus was largely on that. I brought in four new defenders. Risky you might say, but I was looking to the future. Dimitris Btizios was the most expensive signing, coming in from Standard for £20m. He’s young, Greek and I think with the right training, he can become very good. Denis Brdaric came in from Hoffenheim for £15m. Again he’s young, German and can play anywhere along the backline. His versatility will come in handy and I genuinely think he’ll turn out quite well. Shkrodan Mustafi was available from Liverpool and I thought his experience would be useful. He’s got the ability to play at right back or in the middle. His fee was reasonable so I took the plunge. Sead Kolasinac went to Real Madrid after they met his buy-out clause so I used the money from that to bring in Andrew Robertson who I assume Kolasinac was replacing. Manuel Wehlert is a young right winger who is an understudy to Draxler and Vaclav Cerny is doing the same for Bernard, but on the other side of the pitch. He’s quite highly rated in the game at the start, but he’s had few games at Ajax. Was worth getting in for free though. Alen Soljic is a player for my youth team that I signed in January after doing some searching for youngsters.
Departure wise, the only other transfer of note was Kaan Ayhan heading to Napoli for £10m. I only made £17.5m in transfers while my spend was up at £57.5m. After last season, I needed to spend.
Financially, the club went a bit mental in the summer. After winning the league, I guess our reputation grew and everybody wanted a piece of the Schalke pie. The club signed huge sponsorship money deals which included a £67m a season Stadium Sponsorship agreement. If you ask me, it reeked of financial fair play fiddling, but our finances were good. This is a screenshot from the end of the season. My finances are unreal. I’ve never been at a club with this much money. I feel like Scrooge Mcduck. Fancy a swim?The funny thing was, I probably saw the info on the screen that gave me this info, but was too focussed on which shirts we sold the most of. The board also expected that we’d make over £450m in profit this year, we didn’t, but we still did amazingly well financially. So much so that in November, they did this.
With that extra cash in mind, I made a couple of requests from the board. I really want to develop youth here, which I’ll go into later on(possibly in my next post), and we do have rather good facilities, but things can always be better. They agreed and so in the first couple of months of next season, we’ll have upgraded facilities. I also got them to upgrade the Junior Coaching budget.
I spent a lot of time looking for new staff this summer. Mainly for the Youth/U19’s team as I felt it was a bit off compared to the facilities we have(and will be getting). My U19’s manager retired, my Head Of Youth Development was doing alright, but I wanted my own man and I needed to improve the personality type of my other coaches.
He’s not in that list for some reason, but I also managed to nab Thomas Tuchel as my Head Of Youth Development from Kaiserslautern.
Onto the games competitions now. We had four trophies to play for this year, the Supercup, DFB Pokal, Bundesliga and the Champions League.
First game of the season was against Brendan Rodgers’ Bayern Munich in the Supercup which we won 3-0. An own goal from Philip Lahm followed by goals from Bernard and new signing Cerny finishing the game off. First trophy of the season was in the bag and my Supercup curse was finally over.
The DFB Pokal again was a competition I wasn’t going to concentrate on since I had the Champions League to contend this season. Again we made it to the third round before being defeated 1-0 by Dortmund. Board weren’t disappointed, even though they expected me to win it this season.
In the Champions League, I was expecting a tough time. We were seeded third and were drawn in a group with Man City, FC Porto and Trabzonsport. We turned in some great results in the group by beating Man City 4-0 and Porto 4-1, topping the group and heading into the knockout stage. My aim was the quarter final and the board had also set me a similar target.
In the knock out round I drew AC Milan and we came through that game 7-0 on aggregate. In the second leg we were 4-0 up after half an hour. Atletico Madrid were up next in the quarter finals. They’ve done really well and have some amazing players in their team and I expected to go out at this point but managed a 4-0 victory in the first leg before a tight 3-3 draw at home in the second leg. We marched into the semi final. Our opponent, I predicted it when I saw the teams left in the draw. The same thing happened when I left Kyiv. Arsenal were next.
The first 11 were the same players that I’d had when I was there. I was expecting a tough game, they were runners-up in the league last year and were looking good to win this season, which they did. The first tie was away from home, we lost 3-1. We were hardly in the game at all. We had four shots on target all game and Arsenal dominated us. Draxler didn’t turn up and Avdijaj was marked out of the game. I knew we could take them at home in the second legand if we kept a clean sheet, I could see us going through. I had to do some shuffling about due to injury and general tiredness. We looked dangerous in the opening exchanges, after 13minutes Mustafi headed one in. 13minutes later, we had a penalty. Avdijaj hadn’t missed a penalty all season and he didn’t miss this one. 2-0 (3-3 agg). We made it to half time two up. In the second half Jankowski put the ball in the back of the net to make it 3-0 and I was really excited, but it was chalked off for offside. We both had our chances and Arsenal took things up a notch as they chased the game. They knew they’d be out if they didn’t score. We held on.
Carlos Fierro, a striker I adored when I was at Arsenal broke my heart. He broke through on goal on the 89th minute and slotted it past Timo Horn. There was three minutes of injury time left to play, but it was over. Champions League semi-finalists. We’d done well to get past the teams we’d played, but it’s always gutting when it ends that way.
I was hoping to retain the Bundesliga this season. We started off with a 4-0 win over Koln and then came the 15.3 patch. Always a worry. I lost my next game 4-1 to Mainz and I was pretty worried that my tactic was going to be ruined. I kept an eye on things but we bounced back with some pretty good wins. The 4-3 over Darmstadt being one of those games where I was saved by a 90th minute penalty! Phew! We were dominating games but at times couldn’t capitalise on it. We were getting into great goalscoring situations, but missed a lot of opportunities. Avdijaj picked up an injury and although we still won games, we were less convincing. My backups weren’t quite ready or not of a high enough quality. Thankfully, Draxler pulled us through a lot of games. Wins over Leverkusen, Dortmund (who had changed manager again and were playing terribly), Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich made us Winter Champions.
When things kicked off again in January, Avdijaj was getting fit and we continued our form. He took a few games to find his goalscoring touch, but he was soon amongst the goals again and had already scored more goals than he had in the whole of last season. We had another high scoring, scary game against Leverkusen that we won 6-3. Dortmund had found some form again just as we had lost defensive stability and Bernard for 4months. They won the derby 1-0 and then we drew 1-1 with Wolfsburg. The lead at the top was 10 points going into the Freiburg game. If we won that game, we win the league. Lose or draw and the gap would close and a potential title decided again Bayern was in the off.
It was 0-0 at half time against Freiburg and I did my usual “I expect much better from you” team talk, which worked. Three goals within five second half minutes from Goretzka (2) and Meyer made us comfortable and 8minutes later, Meyer added his second and our fourth. Freiburg nabbed a late consolation goal, but we were already celebrating our second Bundesliga in a row. We ended the campaign with victories over Stuttgart, Bayern and Nurnberg.
Players performances were high again this season. Draxler has been the best I’ve ever seen from a player I think. I’ve had strikers score lots of goals, but Draxler was outstanding in all aspects of his game. In December he was rewarded for his fine form in the best way possible.
I’ve never had a player win either of these awards, so it was a first for me. This season, he’s been even better, so he could be in with a shout next year too. His attributes don’t look like much, but he creates so much!
Donis Avdijaj has been on fire for me this year. I had doubts about him last season but this year he’s shown me what a great player he is. Not just with goals, but with assists and his eye for a pass. He’s still only 25 so he’s got room to improve as he hits his peak.
My other key men this season were Leon Goretzka who got a good number of assists and a few goals. Andrew Robertson actually surprised me with how well he played. Bernard was doing well before injury ended his season early and Max Meyer was just a little below the level I expected from him at times.
I’ve never seen a player get this many key passes, ever. 267 key passes. Works out at around 5.9 per game. Draxler, you are my hero! As I mentioned in my previous post, we have a lot of transitional play which reflects in our goals/assists/key passes.
In order of average rating, my team.
We’ll do well to get a third Bundesliga, but I’ve got the time as the board have offered me a new contract which I’ve accepted. My contract runs until 2026. I’m hoping to see a lot of youth team players in the first team by then.
Apologies for the long post, but as I said, lots happened and I wanted to report it all. I will go into my youth project a bit more in the next post as I’ve realised I’ve been making a pigs ear of things. Hopefully by then, I’ll have sorted out my issue.
Thanks again for reading and looking at pictures. Every view and comment is appreciated!