It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the Schalke save, let alone played it. I’ve dabbled with the save occasionally and really tried to get back into it, but I think it’s reached it’s natural conclusion. Some people can manage for years and years in the game, at some point I lose interest and want something a bit different. I thought I’d do a final post about the save, the team and the progress made in the 8-9 years that I managed them.
We started out as a 442 team, Sacchi influenced. It worked really well in the first season, but the second season it just fell to pieces. Towards the end of that season I was switching between 442, 4141 and 4411. I was in chaos really. The instructions were sporadic as I was struggling a bit with the new match engine. By the end of the third season I’d eventually settled on a counter based 4231. It was more to do with the cautious play rather than breaking at speed at first, but eventually that became a huge part of our game. Balancing the double pivot was something I struggled with throughout the save. It worked and brought success though.
It is always my intention to balance the books at any club I manage, be it from TV deals, sponsorship or transfers. If you’re being that guy and including agent fees, we were at a loss, but I’m not that guy and I’m not including them, so we actually made a profit on transfers. (Talk about spinning the stats to suit myself!)
Emeka Promise was my biggest signing in final transfer window. He was a very promising young German that I snapped up from Man Utd. Kevin Volland, the b*astard, left for £55m. I’m still not over that break-up, even though it played a huge part in the development of Zivkovic and Mesanovic.
We did well. 6 Bundesliga titles (in a row) in 8 years in charge. We also won the Champions League in 2019, 2023, the UEFA Super Cup twice in 2019, 2023, The DFB-Pokal in 2018, the DFL Supercup in 2019, 2021, 2022 and Club World Cup winners in 2019.
We missed out on almost as many cups as we won, finishing as runner-up six times.
The Under-19’s also did great, winning the U19’s Group 3, four times in a row between 2018 and 2021, then winning Group 1 in 2022 and 2023. They lifted three Under 19’s Cups and the UEFA Youth League three times. A few of those players eventually made it into the first team.
I don’t really know how much people focus on the financial side of the game, it’s not something I see talked about a lot. For me, it’s very important. I like to have money on tap to either upgrade the squad or the facilities or to attract the best coaches. Not having money means I’m missing out on something I want.
Below is our 15/16 Commercial report followed by our 21-22 report.
The important things to notice there are the amount of sponsorship we were making, the TV money and the one I had most influence over, the merchandising sales. We doubled the amount of money we were making domestically and we were making ten times more from overseas sales at the end. All those trips to Qatar, USA, China and South Korea had paid off. Great success!
I always have favourite players in a save, we all do. It’s hard to not end up loving one of your top performers. For me, I was lucky enough to have a lot of really consistent performers. If I had to pick one stand out player from my whole time at Schalke, that’d be tough. I’ll narrow it down to three I think.
Vyacheslav Karavaev is a Russian right full back who I signed for £13.75m from CSKA Moscow. He was brilliant for me. Always consistent, had more key passes than you could shake a stick at, he passed well, he created and he could defend well. He couldn’t score mind you! He picked up player of the year once and was a contender a couple of other times. Was there for all six Bundesliga wins.
Leroy Sané was there from the start. Scored lots of important goals and created plenty more. Scored 24 goals in the year we won our first Champions League. He was outstanding. His attributes weren’t amazing, but it was all about his end product. As ‘Arry would say “triffic playa”
Kevin Volland (The b*stard!) would probably have to get the vote for my third player. He only spent two years with us, but what a two years. Played 88, scored 45 and created 23. He made me realise what I was doing on the right hand side was correct and opened up the door for Zivkovic and Mesanovic. Made a £40m profit when I sold him, but I still feel bitter about it.
Honourable mentions go to Goretzka, Avdijaj, Zivkovic and Mesanovic(regen) who were all superb throughout.
Wrapping things up…
Going forward, I’m going to start writing about a new save. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do yet, I’ve got one plan, but I’m not 100% on it yet. I’ll be putting a post up in the next week or so, depending on recovery time from my trip to hospital next Wednesday.
Thanks for following the Schalke save. It’s been a joy and I’ve had lots of great feedback.