SeasonTwo.EpisodeOne | Vorbereitung
Welcome to the latest instalment of my journey with Borussia Dortmund. Last time out, we completed our first season in charge. Now we look to build on that and make a push for the league.
As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!
Now, onto the update.
It’s great to get to preseason with a new contract on the back of a great first season.
We have used the 30 odd games to learn the players strengths and weaknesses and I feel I have a good understanding of the teams capabilities. I need to now plan for the future to ensure we can continue to bring success to this club.
That planning started the second I joined Borussia Dortmund. I put in place a scouting structure that would enable us to unearth the top talent around the world to continue the traditions here to bring through players who are not at the peak of their careers, rather we will develop them and help them reach their potential. Whether that is for us or at another top team in Europe.
We had identified the need for cover in the following areas: at least one first team striker, an attacking midfielder as it is expected Kagawa will leave us, a central midfielder or possibly two depending on the situation with the players we have and if they stay and a right back.
However, what I was unprepared for was the number of transfer offers I received for my players and the number of players who actually wanted to leave. Nine players have been sold and left holes in the squad that needed to be filled. We brought in nine players to replace those who have left. We are very well covered now. We have a great mix of youth and experience. I just hope I can give everyone a game.
I hope the players can gel quickly and we make a flying start to the league campaign. Here are the transfers.
TRANSFER BUSINESS | OUT
It has been a busy window indeed with players coming and going. A theme that I suspect will carry on throughout my time here. Here are those who have left us this summer.
OUT | Marwin Hitz | €3.7M (potential €4.6M) to Young Boys
Marwin was a backup keeper who never really impressed when he was given games. The fact that we had signed Predrag Rajkovic in January pushed him further down the order. It was a sensible deal for us.
OUT | Ömer Toprak | €20M to Shanghai SIPG
As with Kagawa, Ömer was very clear that he wanted to leave for the riches of China. For a fringe player on €80K p/w it made little sense to try and keep him here, so it didn’t take much convincing to let him go. A replacement is lined up already.
OUT | Manuel Akanji | €29.5M to Juventus
Another player I didn’t want to sell, but when Juventus came calling and I refused he kicked off and half the squad joined him. When they came in for him again, with a non-negotiable offer I accepted.
OUT | Marcel Schmelzer | €10M to Bournemouth
I didn’t want to lose Marcel but he wanted a new challenge and as he is second in line to Guerreiro on the left I couldn’t stand in his way. He joins Bournemouth for €10M and leaves us needing a new backup left back.
OUT | Sebastian Rode | €3.5M to Celtic
Sebastian played just the one game last season, a 6.80 rating to go with it. He was never going to get a game under me and has been transfer listed since January.
OUT | Thomas Delaney | €48M (rising to €52M) to Bayern Munich
I really didn’t want this transfer to go through. But when I started I made the promise that if a player wanted to leave, he could leave. I don’t want to keep anyone here who doesn’t want to play for us. Unfortunately, when Thomas got wind that Bayern wanted him, he made it very difficult for me to say no. I’m not happy about this one.
OUT | Mahmoud Dahoud | €15.25M (rising to €19M) to Lyon
Dahoud was always a fringe player for me, and with the arrival of Luis he was pushed further down the order. We tried to find him a club last season, but were unsuccessful. This move is best for all parties.
OUT | Shinji Kagawa | €20M to Shanghai SIPG
When Shanghai came calling, Kagawa didn’t even want to discuss the possibility of staying and told me he wanted to leave us. It’s a shame because the work I’ve done over the summer in creating a tactical system more akin to the Dortmund way would have put him in a key position. However, money talks, and we cannot offer him what Shanghai are willing to. He goes with out blessing. Look at that smile, that’s what €170K p/w will do.
OUT | Maximilian Philipp | On loan to Lazio, future fee €38M
Annoyingly Maximilian has had an excellent preseason playing as the number 10, however, I couldn’t convince him to change his mind and stay after his transfer listing last season. I had found a new, important role for him with the loss of Kagawa, but his mind was made up and he wanted to go to Lazio. They will pay a €325K p/m loan fee, all of his wages and a future fee of €38M. A bargain.
TRANSFER BUSINESS | IN
With so many outgoing transfers we’ve had to recruit more than I would have liked to. However, we have signed some absolute gems, I’m so happy with the business that we’ve done this summer.
IN | Nikola Milenkovic | €13M (potential €4.6M) from Fiorentina
With Ömer Toprak heading to Shanghai SIPG with Kagawa, I figured we could make a signing for the future who would also fill that void. Nikola is a resolute centre back, who is really good in the air. At 21 he is old enough to fight for a first team spot and learn from the likes of De Ligt.
IN | Benjamin Pavard | €53M from Stuttgart
A lot of money, matches the €50M we spent on de Ligt, however, at 23 years-old, he is an elite centre back who could be here for years to come. So pleased that Michael Zorc managed to get this one over the line. After Akanji left us for Juventus, I needed a signature signing to show that we mean business, and we’ve certainly done that with this signing.
IN | Kevin Mbabu | €12.5M from Young Boys
Mbabu is a player I’ve long admired. With Hakimi on loan and Piszczek retiring at the end of this season, we needed someone to come in and take over for the long term. He’s still only 24 so we should get a lot of years from him. He will rotate with Hakimi as the games pile up during the busy Champions League season. At €12.5M Zorc has pulled one out of the hat with this transfer, he’s instantly valued at €33M as he joined.
IN | Ferland Mendy | €8M from Lyon
With Schmelzer asking to leave, and getting his wish, we needed someone to come in and fill in at left wing-back. I plan to play for all competitions this season, so need two good players in this position. Mendy isn’t world class, but he has all the right attributes to make it here. He’s still relatively young so has a lot of games in him to learn and adapt. He has great pace and acceleration which is something I love in my wing-backs. He has the potential to be a leading Bundesliga left-back so let’s hope he can go all the way.
IN | Florentino Luís | €51M from Benfica
When Zorc came to me with a report on Luís I was excited. He’s very technical, a consistent performer and natural in a couple of positions. At only 19 years of age his best years are ahead, despite already operating at a Bundesliga level.
He achieved an 86% pass rate last season with Benfica and 85% tackle success rate. And while his average rating of 6.91 is lower than I would have liked to see in the report, he is still young and developing.
IN | Frenkie de Jong | €22M from Ajax
With Dahoud and Delaney leaving, we were a little bit short in the middle. I’d tried to sign de Jong earlier in the transfer window but our advances were rebuffed. However, on deadline day, we went to see if we could maybe do a deal, and surprisingly, Ajax were willing to let Frenkie come to us for just €22M. I’m delighted and cannot wait to see how he develops for us.
IN | Riyad Mahrez | On loan from Manchester City
This was real impulse. Unlike me, but when I noticed he was available from City for loan, I asked my scouts to check him out. A leading player for most Bundesliga sides, he has good balance and agility. He is also very good with the ball at his feet, so should be an excellent addition to the team. He is likely to play as the number 10 in rotation with Götze, as I cannot afford to bring in another one of the quality I will need in that role.
IN | Paco Alcácer | €13M from Barcelona
It was a no brainier to make Alcácer’s move permanent. However, it was quite a protracted transfer. It wasn’t until 16 August that Barcelona transfer listed him, and for the cut price of €13M we have a right bargain on our hands. Immediately worth €33M I’m hoping he has a big season for us. Much bigger than the season gone by.
IN | Fiete Arp | €10.75M from Hamburg
I’d been aware of Arp for a while, but I’d never tried to sign him because we have Isak coming through the ranks and didn’t know if I would be able to offer him the game time he would probably want, however, when my scouts informed me that we could probably do a deal for around €10M I asked Zorc to see what he could do. Amazingly, with a year left on his contract, Hamburg were willing to do a deal, it was one of those I couldn’t turn down.
It has been a very successful preseason, with no injuries and the players seem to be settling in nicely. The new system has been very solid defensively and has given us a lot of attacking options going forwards.
This is what it looks like on paper.
I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible, letting the players personalities and traits really dictate how the players play. It’s why I’ve only elected to have one playmaker role in the team. The playmaker is my hook, the metronome that makes everything tick.
We play with a very fluid, attacking system. I don’t ask too much of the players. In possession we play out from the back. We have some great players on the ball, and I want us to keep it. We pass short and play with a high tempo.
When we lose possession I want the players to counter-press and win it back as quickly as possible.
Out of possession we play with a high line and a high line of engagement. I want the players to harass the opposition and give them no time and space on the ball. We press urgently and where possible prevent the goalkeeper from distributing it short.
We heavily press with wide players, showing the wide defenders back inside where we are strong in numbers, but wide attackers are shown out wide back to the flanks. We mark central players tightly to prevent an easy pass back inside.
The game plan is simple, pin the opposition back, keep them away from our goal and catch them on the break with quick and decisive play.
I will write more about the system soon, as it’s really good for the players we have. The results were great, but then we’d be expecting to win most of these.
That’s about it for now, the season proper started with the DFL-Supercup, but you’ll have to wait for the next update to see how we did there. Thank you for reading.
Until next time, tschüss.