SeasonFour.EpisodeThree | Rückrunde
Welcome to the latest instalment of my journey with Borussia Dortmund. Last time out, we completed the first half of season four, we were through to the next round of the Champions League and sitting top of the league, can it continue?.
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.
You know when you plan on having a season of consolidation. One where you make a couple of signings to strengthen things but then hope that the season remains consistent… Well, that didn’t happen.
JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW
This was probably one of the worst windows I had. We were prepared for a quiet one. We didn’t need to sell, and we didn’t need to buy. However, you do not always get what you want.
This time last year, we were spending €3.1M p/w on wages compared with €4.8M of Bayern. Both clubs have increased their wage spending.
TRANSFER BUSINESS | OUT
It has been a disappointing transfer window in terms of players sales. With the exception of Witsel, I didn’t want to see a single player leave. Alas, it has been a very busy window for us.
OUT | Matthijs de Ligt | €124M to Manchester United
He was the best player and potential future captain. However, his release clause was met and the €215k p/w United were willing to pay him was enough for him to leave us. he goes with our blessing. In for €50M and out for €124M = €70M profit.
OUT | Frenkie de Jong | €72M to Manchester City
Another player I didn’t want to see leave. At least not in January anyway. However, Frenkie was adamant he wanted to go so he leaves with our wishes. He’ll be fighting it out with Matthijs for the Premier League title. In for €22M and out for €72M = €50M profit.
OUT | Axel Witsel | €12M to Manchester City
I wasn’t expecting to lose Luís this window (see below), hence letting Witsel leave for City. He was out of contract in the summer and refused to sign a new deal so we tried to recoup what we could. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have let him run his contract down. Especially since Weigl got a long term injury just after he left.
OUT | Florentino Luís | €72M to Tottenham Hotspurs
Another player I would have liked to keep. However, I made a deal with him that he could leave if we received an offer in the region of €72m. Spurs made that offer with three hours of the deadline remaining. I didn’t want to have an unhappy player on my books, so off he went. Just the €20M profit.
A very busy window, which brings our total transfer income to €338M.
TRANSFER BUSINESS | IN
When Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong had their release clauses activated by Manchester United and Manchester City respectively, I decided to throw caution into the wind. And the wind was strong.
I asked Michael Zorc for the two best central midfielders on the planet. Okay, they’re not the best, but they’re two of the best.
Chelsea’s João Felix and Liverpool’s Milenkovic-Savic were among the best statistically for their respective roles. João is more of an attacking playmaker, while Sergej more a box-to-box playmaker type. Perfect. I asked if he could get them for me, and get them for me he did.
At the time of scouting, Milinkovic-Savic had won over 90% of his headers, with over 7 per game. He averages almost 4 interceptions and creates 1.5 chances per game. Phenomenal stats and just what I like to see from a more defensive central midfielder. If he can replicate that for me I will be happy.
João, while not having the high number of starts as Sergej, was showing his creativity with 3 chances per game created and 1.5 dribbles, along with a 60% shot accuracy.
Here are the incoming players.
IN | Wanderson | €7.5M from Vasco da Gama
Signed for the future. Wanderson was a good signing for the money we were able to get him for. My scouts really rate him. He’ll go out on loan for the rest of the season and then come in as understudy to Weigl next season.
IN | Sergej Milinkovic-Savic | €147M from Liverpool
This guys stats were out of this world. I didn’t think we had a chance at signing him. However, after all the money we received from player sales I thought we might have a chance. Fortunately, Michael Zorc pulled off a tremendous signing. He’ll come in as a number 8 and play in that holding role in midfield for us.
IN | João Félix | €156M from Chelsea
I knew all about João before I signed him. When I saw he was unhappy at Chelsea I asked Michael to see if he could bring him in. To my amazement, we managed to do a deal. I expect him to rotate the number 10 position with Sergio Gómez.
Out total transfer spending was almost €400M in total. An astonishing amount.
RÜCKRUNDE 2022 | BUNDESLIGA
The second half of the season comes with 16 games to complete. A shorter half, which started as we left off.
January was business as usual, but as the players started to leave I could see cracks in the system which were papered over by the excellent form of Alcácer. He was proving why he is still my number one. However, following a hattrick performance from Felix against Frankfurt in the 4-0 demolition, things started to turn sour in the league.
We went on a run where we lost four of the last nine games. We were conceding stupid goals and not really creating much going forwards. Something needed to change but I didn’t want to do anything too drastic this late into the season and stuck with what we had to see it through.
It didn’t help that I was playing players out of position in defensive midfield to cover for Weigl. As it happens, the four losses were not enough to cause us concern in the league, but it was enough to make me rethink my strategy for next season.
League champions yet again.
The final league table looked like this.
RÜCKRUNDE 2022 | DFB-POKAL
We managed to retain the DFB-Pokal with a comfortable win on the final day of the season against arch-rivals Schalke. We had a pretty simple run to the final in the end, with Wolfsburg giving us our hardest match. We’ve been fortunate to avoid Bayern and will be happy to finish the season with the cup in our cabinet.
RÜCKRUNDE 2022 | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
This is the real one. This is the trophy that keeps me up at night, but no matter what we try, we’re just never good enough. This year we couldn’t even get by Lyon in the first knockout rounds. We comfortably beat them in the first leg at home, which should have been a lot more than 1-0. However, away from home, we lost 1-0 to go to the lottery of penalties.
The less said about them the better. I fear we’ll never get there…
And that’s a wrap.
|Goals||67||1st||down 29% from 95|
|Pass completion ratio||85%||1st||up 8% from 79%|
|Chances created||39||14th (1st previously)||down 51% from 79|
|Shots on target ratio||43%||12th (1st previously)||down 9% from 47%|
|Average possession||53%||1st||up 18% from 45%|
|Tackles won ratio||85%||12th||No movement|
|Fouls made||262||17th||down 30% from 373|
So we’ve made some good strides in some of our play. Our decision to play a more possession-based game has shown here with our pass completion up and also our average possession increased 18% over last season. However, the poor number of shots on target and chances created is something I’ll worry about over the summer as I look to get the most out of our new signings.
My favourite part of the season. It’s a time I reflect on the season as a whole and who has made a valued contribution. As you can see most of the players in the squad have achieved a >7 rating, which is the minimum for me.
Ferland Mendy, when fit, has been the stand out performer in that regard, with new signing Dayot Upamecano coming a close second.
Ederson has had another storming season. He has played every game this season and kept 32 clean sheets in 48 appearances.
He has a high completion ratio for passes, at 78% although given the short passing instruction I”m going to be looking for this to improve next season.
A key part of the way we play is getting the wing-backs up the pitch and supporting attacks.
This year the output from my wing-backs has dropped considerably.
My wing-backs had 39 assists between them last season. A return of just 13 this term. Mbabu achieved 2.26 key passes p/90 compared with just 0.50 this year. I think I need to try to get them more involved. It’s no coincidence that their drop off in output as correlated to our reduced number of goals scored.
The Central Defenders
Losing de Ligt was a massive blow, but Upamecano and Pavard have stepped up and formed quite a good partnership. The former having a 92% tackle completion ratio and 2.89 interceptions p/90.
I am disappointed with the number of headers they’re winning. Pavard at 73% and Upamecano on 69% are far too low and is almost attributable to the goals we’ve been conceding.
Milenkovic, as he was last season, is up there with 86% again. If he doesn’t leave, there’s going to be a big decision to make about who gets that first place on the team sheet.
- Headers won: 69% third
- Tackle completion: 92% first
- Interceptions: 2.89 first
- Headers won: 73% second
- Tackle completion: 88% second
- Interceptions: 2.35 third
- Headers won: 69% third
- Tackle completion: 86% third
- Interceptions: 1.52 forth
- Headers won: 86% first
- Tackle completion: 81% forth
- Interceptions: 2.78 second
As you can see, it’s pretty clear who the worst of the four is. The best, probably Upamecano, followed by Milenkovic.
The Central Midfielders
It’s quite tough to pick apart my central midfielders as we’ve changed their roles and we’ve lost three of them.
Milinkovic-Savic and Félix have done a good job, but not as much as I had hoped.
Gravenberch and Gómez are up there with the highest assists, but they’ve played more games than anyone else. However, they excel when you look at the assists per 90 minutes, so it’s probably a fair assessment.
I need to get the three roles working, which I still struggled to do this season. I don’t think the double playmaker in central midfield is working so I’ll be changing that up now I have more industrious players to work with.
Jadon Sancho is probably my best winger by far. He has 16 goals to his name this season. Lincoln is a close second on the opposite side. It’s easy to see why these two are my starters.
However, next season they’ll be challenged for their places by Maid Pantic on the left (challenging Sancho) and Manuel Franco on the right (challenging Lincoln). These two youngsters are too good for the reserves, so they’ll be getting game time next season.
My wingers all have a high number of dribbles per game and are taking nearly 3 shots per game each.
Alcácer is still my main man. 24 goals in 35(6) games. Not as impressive as last season but still a good return on what was a difficult season (despite the easy league win). He also got the top goalscorer award in the league with 17 goals, followed closely by Fiete Arp (who we loaned out to Mainz) on 16 goals.
Mehmet is yet to live up to the hype but at just 20 years old there’s still room for him to develop. With Fiete Arp coming back from loan and Sebastian Eckardt getting 27 in 34 in the 2 Bundesliga, we’re going to have a lot of competition so I might let Mehmet go out on loan.
Now onto the much-awaited awards!
Oliver Jensen’s golden spoon award
Awarded to my stand out player of the season.
- Sergio Gómez
With 10 goals and 8 assists, he has run the show from midfield. We really feel it when he is missed.
He has become an integral part of the squad now and is probably my most highly rated player by the backroom team, too. At just 21 years old it’s frightening to think how good he can be.
Oliver Jensen’s wooden spoon award
Awarded to my stand out player, for all the wrong reasons.
- Mehmet Ali Yayla
Again this is really hard because no players have really let me down this season. If I was going to be tough, I would have to say Mehmet because he’s had plenty of chances to come on and impress me but he is yet to take a single chance. For that reason, he gets the wooden spoon award this season.
I still think he can come good and become an excellent player for us, so hopefully, he’ll take this on the chin and use it for next season.
Oliver Jensen’s silver spoon award
Awarded to the best youth player (under 23) to break into the squad, either new signing or from the youth teams.
- Ivan Barradas
Ivan has been outstanding at left-back for me this season. He’s played 22(4) games with a 7.23 average rating.
While he hasn’t set the world alight from an attacking standpoint, he has been solid defensively.
I’ll take some of the blame for his attacking shortcomings since he’s played as a supporting full-back for most of the season, but he should get a more attacking role next time out.
Fans player of the season
- Sergio Gómez (40%)
- Benjamin Pavard (30%)
- Kevin Mbabu (19%)
Young player of the season
- Sergio Gómez
All in all, an okay season. Three trophies but the Champions League escaped us yet again.
Our shareholders are not at all happy this year. Unlike last season where they shared a €21M dividend payment, this year there was none. The taxman doesn’t get a cheque this year, either.
Again, we are haemorrhaging money. We’ve made a loss of €120M overall. Nothing to worry about though. We’ll likely make up a lot of that with player sales in the summer.
Just a €29M loss in the transfer market, which considering our spending really isn’t all too bad.
The wages to turnover ratios for the league paint a good picture We spend 40% on wages, which is one of the better ratios in the league. Poor Paderborn, spending 101% — ouch.
Excel got a little drunk with the upwards green arrows in the percentage change because we’ve actually reduced our income in almost all categories. Notably in gate receipts and prize money. However, we doubled our transfer income in the same period.
I’m not quite sure why, but despite a €252M balance, the board have injected €25M into the club, perhaps the projection over the season sees us losing money long term. Not a great position to be in.
A 27% increase in our income is a little misleading considering the €300M from player sales. I don’t expect, or rather I hope, that we will see revenues as high as €700M next season.
With the reduced Champions League football due to our early exit, the commercial summary doesn’t look great. A reminder of just how much that competition makes us.
I talked about income allowing us to be competitive in the market, and we’ve certainly been that. This summer will be key as we look to strengthen again.
Well, I know this looks bleak, but we had a weird January where we spent quite a lot of money on players.
Wages have increased a lot. We’re still within budget by some considerable amount. The board allow us €4.1M per week, but we’re spending just €3.6M per week.
So our expenditure increases 57% but again, player purchases in January have caused this. I expect things will balance out this summer.
Despite the lack of profit, we’re still in a good place financially. I will be trimming the squad some more this summer so we will see some of the big earners going.
PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON
Winning the league is always the priority, with a cup run in there, too. However, we have to do better in the Champions League. If we don’t get to the semi-final, I’ll consider it another bad run.
I want to try to make us better defensively against the stronger teams. I need maybe one or two players to make that happen.
As always, thanks for reading. It’s good to be back.
Until next time, tschüss.