Last summer was a bit of a drag due to losing a Kevin Volland. I was really happy with what he gave to the team, but as you may have read in my “Forgetting Kevin Volland” blog below this one, £66m was tough to turn down. Off to Man Utd he went.
Kristoffer Ajer, Júnior Caiçara and Ralf Fährmann also left from the first team. Ajer, rather annoyingly, left on a free transfer. It took a while for a team to actually him up. He joined Inter Milan. He did say he wanted to go to a better league.. erm. Caiçara and Fährmann stayed in Germany.
I wasn’t really going to sign anyone. The transfer funds were there to bring pretty much anyone I wanted, but I was put off by huge price tags. I eventually settled on Christoph Kramer. He cost me a staggering £40m, but I had nobody in my youth setup that could come into the first team. Kramer was also more of a defensive presence that I was looking for as well as being a positive personality type for tutoring.
Due to us winning the league last year, we opened the season up with the Supercup against Dortmund. An 84th Minute Marco Reus goal winning it for them in a fairly unexciting game.
Winning the Pokal last season was our first silverware in this save. It wasn’t a priority this season as I wanted to improved performances in the league and Champions League. Victories over Heimstetten (3-0) and Cottbus (3-1) came before a 1-0 defeat at recently relegated RB Leipzig ended our chances of retaining the cup.
Winning the Bundesliga last season was tight, really tight. It was actually a bit of a surprise as well. I never expected or aimed for that. It wasn’t until the final few games that I thought it was possible.
The aim was still to get qualified for the Champions League, but I wanted to guarantee a top three finish. Losing our top scorer was going to make it a bit more of a challenge.
The season started well with victories over Leverkusen and Stuttgart before defeats to Bayern and Gladbach. We were never really all that convincing in games. We scraped a few victories and in a lot of games, the last 10-20minutes were nailbiting as we faced wave after wave of attacks from teams that were chasing the game.
By Christmas, we’d only lost the two afforementioned games.
After Christmas we continued to struggle to victories. We’d lost our first choice striker to a broken foot and only had 20 year-old Thomas Dahl to fill-in. He did well, but he was learning as he was going.
We lost to Stuttgart and stumbled to draws with Augsburg and Bayern, but we were never defeated again for the rest of the season as Bayern’s challenge fell away.
Although we won the league more convincingly, we weren’t very convincing in the games. Still, a win is a win, but it was something to look at next season.
The group stage was a very tough draw on paper. Milan, Sevilla and Fenerbahçe were all going to be difficult.
We opened the group with a defeat by Milan, won the next four games before finishing the group off with a defeat by Sevilla. The 4-1 win over Sevilla was an interesting game as two goals were scored in the first 10minutes. Nothing really happened for the next 70minutes but in the last 10, it went mad as we scored three goals to win the tie.
A convincing 6-2 aggregate win over Monaco in the first knockout round setup a repeat of the 2016/17 Champions League final. Real Madrid, our conquerers then, and in last seasons Quarter Final were up next. There’s no easy games at this stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo showed us his quality after just one minute at the Bernabéu. Benzema doubled their lead before half-time. I was just hoping to keep it respectable again. If we could get an away goal though, we’d maybe have a chance of beating them at home. After the hour mark, that goal came when Nikola Vlasic smashed in from Sané’s cross.
In the return game, Real Madrid were all over us, but they couldn’t hit the target. Unfortunately, when we were breaking, we were having the same problem. It took an hour for us to finally grab a goal. Thomas Dahl heading in from a Karavaev cross. In the 84th minute, we broke away on the counter and Karavaev again hit in a sweet cross for Leroy Sané to smash home!
It was an all German affair in the semi-final as we faced Bayern. We got right on the front foot with a goal after 5minutes from Karavaev. Sané doubled our lead before half-time. We were cruising and Bayern never got going. Dahl added a third after half-time before Sané scored his second to make it 4-0. In the second leg, Bayern had control of the tie, but again we came away with victory, hitting them on the counter in a 2-1 victory.
The final had a twist.
Not only was it being held at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, but it was again Man Utd. Kevin Volland’s Man Utd. He was going to win it for them, wasn’t he? I could see it already.
We went into the final with a full strength squad. We had two weeks off at the end of the season to prepare. We were ready!
Until about the 3rd minute that was. Adnan Januzaj capitalising on a poor touch from Robin Knoche and placing a fine shot into the top corner. The pass came from another man who I’d gotten rid of, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. D’oh!
It was a fairly even game with a fair amount of chances going to each side.
In the 18th minute a nice little link up between Dahl, Meyer and Zivkovic split open the Man Utd backline. Three defenders were left dumbstruck as Dahl poked home from 6-yards. 1-1!
There wasn’t long to wait for the next goal either.
Meyer picked the ball up just inside his own half. He laid a short pass to Dahl and burst off into space while Dahl ran at the United backline. They were in a shambles and Meyer was in the perfect spot to pick up Dahl’s through ball.
Meyer chipped the ball over the onrushing De Gea to make it 2-1!
United came at us but we were in charge of the ball and the game. United’s frustration was showing as they conceded a number of fouls and collected four yellow cards in the final ten minutes.
By the end of the game I had thrown a couple of my youth players on for the experience of being crowned Champions League winners!
With Kevin Volland leaving in the summer, everyone had to up their game a bit. Thankfully, they did!
Sané scored 24 from the left wing and Zivkovic nabbed himself 11 from the opposite side. My strikers finished the season with 29 goals between them, so I’m hoping for an improvement on that next season.
Defensively we were good at times, but I think next season I’ll be reducing Höwedes’ game time as he seems to be having a lot of up and down performances. Kai Höhn will likely see more action to help fulfil his great potential.
Kramer had a very reasonable first season in the team, especially when you consider that a lot of people are complaining about defensive midfielders getting low ratings.
Zivkovic and Karavaev had a deadly partnership down the right hand side and both ended the season as my highest rated player. Zivkovic pipped it due to playing more games.
My youth team actually had a great season as well. They won the league, the cup and the UEFA youth Championship. Top dogs!
I might do a post on some of my youth prospects at some point in the near future if people would be interested. I’ve got a few players that look really good.
At present I can’t see any major signings being likely. I’m happy with the balance of the squad, although if Geis leaves I’ll likely bring in another defensive midfielder. Kaan Ayhan has asked to leave already so I suspect he’ll be heading out the door.
I’ll be aiming to win the league next season. I suspect aiming for the Champions League spots is a bit unambitious now, so a league title has to be the aim. I’m quietly confident if I can iron out some of my tactical issues.
No aim for the Pokal, although quarter final would be nice. I’ve got a Champions League Quarter final spot in mind. Winning one of the Super Cups would be good and I guess winning the World Club Championship should definitely be the aim. Win as many cups as I can!
There’s a couple of great young players that I’ve promoted to the first team, so I suspect you’ll read a bit about them in my next round-up.
Thanks again for all the comments and feedback on the saves. Any tips/advice on improving these is always greatly received. I appreciated all the shares and retweets that I’ve been getting on Twitter and on blogs.