Well, I’ve reached the end of the January transfer window, so it’s time for me to update you all on how things are going in the TSV München save. You might ask why I’ve played until the end of the January transfer window, but all will be explained later in this post. In the last update, I covered the early decisions I’d made through the pre-season, covering signings (both staff and player) and results in the early part of the 2. Bundesliga season.
I’d also gone into tactics (as always), and discussed the theory and style of the counter attacking 4-1-4-1 system I was using, and waxing lyrical about its brilliance over the first two games of the league season, where we effortlessly beat Heidenheim and Frankfurt 2-0, only allowing one shot on target over the two games and countering lethally. At that point, we were top of the 2. Bundesliga with 6 points, so have we managed to keep that up? Or despite the re-brand, do we still have 1860’s bad luck?
Well, 19 games in we currently sit 5 points clear of Greuther Fürth at the top of the table, and 9 points clear of Kaiserslauten in the playoff place. We regained first place around week the 5th or 6th week of fixtures, and haven’t relinquished it since. As always with my sides, this success is built on the strength of our defensive work, and in those 19 games, we’ve only conceded 13 goals, a record that is the best in the league. In terms of scoring, we’re currently only the third best in the league, something I’d really like to work on towards the end of the season.
In fact, these statistics and the control we have over our own destiny in the league somewhat hides some problems that I’ve encountered as the season goes on. In a way, I really understand how Manchester United fans feel watching their side under Van Gaal. We’re getting the results, but the play is less than inspiring, and we’re not dominating teams how I would like us to.
Part of that was the counter attacking 4-1-4-1 that I was using. Whilst it helped us dominate in the first few games of the season, and pick up some easy wins, after the 8th or 9th game I really started to notice the counter attacks drying up, and teams started to allow us to control possession, and control the ball. That’s all well and good, but we weren’t set up to have the ball, and that meant at times we struggled to break down defences. Furthermore, bigger sides would allow us to have the ball, but then press us aggressively. Again, we weren’t set up to play this type of football, and it meant that we suffered, and played some horrible, boring football on the way to 1-0 and 2-1 wins, results that just weren’t convincing, and on another day, we could easily have lost those games.
It’s meant that the last 6 or so games have been spent developing a more possession based tactic, and whilst performances have been improving, and we’ve looked far more capable with the ball, there’s still been areas we can improve. It’s odd to say, but the team itself simply wasn’t right for the type of possession football I want to play.
On top of that, Daniel Adlung‘s contract was about to run out. It might seem strange that I allowed it to run so close to the point where he could be signed for a free, but in fact I’ve repeatedly tried to re-sign him throughout my first few months in charge of TSV, but he’s wanting at least 29k a week (recently moving up to 31k) and I simply cannot afford that. The most I can afford is about 13.5k a week. It’s extremely irritating as Adlung has not only been our best player, but the best player in the league. However, finances forced my hand, and I decided to cash in on Adlung, selling him to Besiktas for 900k. It’s much less than I could have got for him if he wasn’t coming towards the end of his contract, but in reality, I was quite happy with 900k, and set out to make some changes to the side, and look for players who would fit the new possession based tactic I’m using, and help ensure that not only do we achieve promotion to the Bundesliga, but that we do well once we make it there.
The first signing I made was Agim Ibraimi from Slovenian side Maribor for 625k. In the new system I’m using, the quality (or lack therof) of our wingers has really been exposed, with both Rama and Claasen being poor finishers. They were more than adequate when they were playing as WM-S’s in the 4-1-4-1, but now one of them has to play an important IF-A role, and they’re just simply not good enough, and it’s costing us. I’ve lost count of the amount of times we finish games 1-0 despite having 4 clear cut chances. We need to convert these chances, and as a result, a new right winger was badly needed. Ibraimi has all the attributes I’m looking for, and is a far more rounded football than either Rama or Claasen. On top of that he’s a good dribbler, and can finish well. Hopefully he should perform well cutting in from the right flank, and provide us with a lot more goals from that position. A bonus is that he’s valued at £1.2M, so getting him for 625k is an absolute bargain.
I then spent 300k to replace Adlung in central midfield, bringing in the Spaniard Chevi from Logrones. Again, he’s a well rounded player, the type I like, and should do very well for us in the centre of the park. We’ve also managed to sign him for lower than his value, with the game valuing him at 375k. I’m very happy with this transfer, and actually think we’ve upgraded on Adlung, with a player that is 4 years younger. Chevi will sit alongside Liendl in central midfield, and hopefully control the centre of the park whilst supporting the forward players.
At this point I’d pretty much decided that those would be my only two transfers in the January window. There were still weaknesses within the squad, but I felt I would deal with them in the Summer. However, top scorer Rubin Okotie decided that my decision to actually make some money out of the inevitable loss of Adlung was a terrible idea, and split the squad (which presumably is a new feature for FM16, and one I like), the majority in favour of my decision, but a few dissenters flocked to Okotie’s side, and I decided rather than risk the rest of the season, I would sell Okotie and remove the cancer in the squad, and bring in his replacement, and prepare for the step up to the Bundesliga. Furthermore, Okotie had started the season on fire, but since then had really been in and out of form, and had looked limited in the role I need the striker to play in my new system. In addition, Okotie was 28 and I knew I could find a younger player that would play better, and would also be able to develop and bed into the side before the (fingers crossed) promotion to the Bundesliga. Okotie was therefore sold for 500k, and I went into the market looking for a new first choice striker.
I found exactly what I was after in Johannes Wurtz, and signed him for 675k. He’s only 23, so still has plenty of time to develop as well. I signed him from the second placed team Greuther Fürth, where he was transfer listed at his own request, wanting to play first team football. The game appears to see him more as a Number 10, but with that 14 finishing along with his creative ability, I see him as the perfect striker for my system. I’ve given him the Number 13, just because I’m a lover of football history and know how important that number is in German football. I really do believe that Wurtz can develop into a fantastic striker for us, one that will do very well in the Bundesliga. Again, I signed him for well below his 900k value.
After that, I really was in full on ‘let’s get ready for the Bundesliga’ mode, and decided to strengthen the squad wherever I could. Yes, our form could be affected by an influx of new players, but with a fairly comfortable gap in the 2. Bundesliga, it was a risk I was prepared to take. Also, let’s face it, despite the results we’ve had, our form itself has hardly been fantastic, and I was yearning for some good performances by this point. It was also around this time that Brighton came in for Gary Kagelmacher, and I somehow negotiated them up to £1.9M, giving me enough money to really upgrade the squad, whilst having enough left over to put into the club’s coffers. I also sold backup striker Stefan Mugosa and third string goalkeeper Vitus Eicher for a combined 300k. With this, the next area I wanted to upgrade was centre back.
I’ve had issues with the defence all through the season, so signed Israel Puerto from CD Lugo for 375k. Rodnei has been by far our best centre back, but the other options have either been too slow, or just not good enough at defending. Therefore, I wanted to sign a defender both with the ability to play the position well, and with the pace to cover deep. With the move to a possession orientated style, the mentality has been cranked up, and therefore the defensive line. As a result, it’s important to have defenders with pace who can cover a large amount of space behind them. Puerto is a fantastic defender for this level, and has plenty of pace. On top of that, he’s more than capable with the ball, and should hopefully aid our playing out from the back.
With the sale of Mugosa, I also needed a backup striker, and signed Yesim Ben Mohamadi on a free from Sparta Rotterdam. He’s only young at 19, but has plenty of potential and looks like he’ll be a fantastic backup to Wurtz in the striker position. I’m not expecting much from him, but he’ll do a job if Wurtz gets injured or suspended, and it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses over the next few seasons. At the very least, he will provide fantastic resale value in a few years time.
All this transfer activity leaves the first choice lineup as this on the right. As you can see, the new system that I’ve moved to is a 4-3-3, basically an attacking upgrade on the 4-1-4-1. This is a far better lineup than we had when this season began, and not only do I believe it is the best lineup in the 2. Bundesliga, I also believe that it would cope more than comfortably with the rigours and demands of football in the Bundesliga itself. Not only is this simply a lineup with players of a higher quality, this is also a lineup of players far more accustomed to the style that I’m looking to develop.
The tactic itself is an evolution of a 4-3-3 that I’ve used in a testing save with Napoli, but it has become far more refined since that time, and less ‘battering ram’ type football. I don’t mean that in terms of long ball football, but more in terms of an uncultured attempt to just batter the opposition’s defence with attacking players. It was the kind of style that doesn’t thrive in the FM16 match engine, and as a result, I’ve tweaked it to include the playmaker out wide on the left, and the roaming playmaker in the centre, where Liendl should dominate games with his intelligence and guile.
This tactic still isn’t finalised though. I haven’t been totally happy with how we’ve played over the last few games before the winter break, however I have a feeling that this is largely due to the players available to me rather than the tactic itself. The squad now has a lot more creativity, and should be able to break down the defences we will face until the end of the 2. Bundesliga season.
It may seem presumptuous for me to be planning for the Bundesliga now and making transfers ahead of time, but I really would be surprised if we didn’t achieve promotion now. We have a comfortable gap down to the playoff places, and even if we suffer a loss of form due to the influx of new players, I believe the increase in quality will balance this out, and by the time we play in the Bundesliga next season, we should have a quality squad who have gelled together, and can comfortably compete in the Bundesliga. I must say, I haven’t been as excited to play the second half of a season this much in a long time, and I can’t wait to see how the new signings do. I can re-evaluate now as I said I would, and say that anything less than promotion would now be a failure, and that is 100% my aim. It’s going to be an interesting second half of the season, but one that I can’t wait to get through.
So, that’s the mid-season update of the TSV München save, and I’ll hopefully be back soon with the end of season update, and news of our promotion to the Bundesliga. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this update, and as always, if you have any questions regarding this save, or Football Manager, then please contact me via the comments section, or on Twitter (@JLAspey). Until next time, thank you for reading.