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Despite keeping my cards close to my chest, potentially waiting for the Hamburg (16th in Bundesliga) or even the Eintracht Frankfurt (6th in 2.Bundesliga), I felt that the project here at Bochum was the right one for me. My appointment was swift, with just one further Champions League game played at Elfsborg, a 0-0 draw at Young Boys. I know that the idea of the Champions League to where I am, right now, feels a million miles away but I feel that the board are ambitious and that this is a five year project for us – here to the Champions League. I’ve done quite a lot of reading into VFL Bochum and, aside from their lovely kits – as @Shrewnaldo demonstrated – they appear to be one of the oldest clubs in the world. The general information states the date that they reformed but the clue from the 1848 in their name, tells me that a gymnastics and sports club was set up, some 180 years prior to the game date of my arrival. A current Bundesliga team, this side stayed for two years before relegation and have been on a bit of a decline ever since, unable to return to the top flight. I was drawn to their affiliates, particularly Brommapojkarna, allowing me to keep a foothold in Swedish football and benefit from their young academy players. Remarkably, the team is listed as more reputable than current Swedish champions and Champions League side Elfsborg but I really do think the skeleton is there, at least in terms of the 26,000 seater stadium, superb youth facilities and excellent training facilities.

The problem, though, lies in the day to day running:

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We look to incur around €8m in losses per season with a projection of more than €15m of debt and, despite the hefty 2.Liga prize money, look like we will have to sell in order to stay afloat, certainly in the short term. My aim for a club – particularly one that fits in with the straight through process (no B team at all), means that I intend to create a playing time pathway as well as a conveyor belt of talent leaving the north east of Germany, taking through the Bochum-way and, in the much longer term, performing with it on the big stage. In the short term though, there will have to be considerable discussion around recruitment and retention of staff and players as I need to balance the books and balance them, fast. A quick scan through the books tells me that the board invested over €900k this month but that has never happened before – maybe this was to do with my appointment. Sponsorships and combined gate receipts bring in just shy of €10m a year but last season’s €26m wage bill is a huge problem (and, looking at the salary commitments right now, doesn’t seem to be going away) that needs to be rectified and brought under control, fast. Add €4m in loyalty bonuses, €5m in contract bonuses and €11m in transfer spend and you can see why we’re in this hole but, amazingly, we are debt free and have no outgoing monthly payments. On the other hand, though, the youth setup, at a mere €1m a year, is here to stay!

In real life, Schalke may struggle for a 3.Liga license and, in game, the now-3.Liga outfit have been restricted to just youngsters and now languish near the bottom of that league, potentially looking at two possible relegations. Our league position would suggest that relegation is a real concern for us, too, but, given our recent form and the xG table, I think it’s safe to say that the squad is stronger than it appears and there is potential to turn this around, make some money and then look to grow organically in the future. Having left a club with over €60m in the coffers and a pretty much unlimited financial handle over the entirety of their domestic scene, I’m excited to make the move here and have to do things slightly differently!

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The staffing situation is pretty threadbare, in all honesty. I was able to bring over a couple of members of staff, and, particularly pleasingly, Michael Jorgenson was willing to head to Germany with me to continue as my Head of Youth Development, a role he performed well. In my interview, I promised to work with current DoF Marc Lettau but, with our financial situation looking so tight, I do not necessarily feel it appropriate to delegate everything to him, yet, despite the realism within that option. I was also able to bring in a few youth staff with me as I continue to make a concerted effort to develop the best players and, ultimately, the most profitable assets.

I must admit to not deeply looking at the team before the takeover. I never do. I didn’t have the knowledge of the country when at Elfsborg to see many attributes but, also, I like to come in and write a post like this whilst looking through the players for the first time, setting up their training and development plans as well as forming ideas of how I plan to use them. I was immediately drawn to the three players below judging by their current ability: Lawrence, Nduquidi and Alvarez.

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However, I never take that for gospel and I am certainly not overly keen on their statistical outputs, which you can see by clicking on the thumbnails above. However, walking into a club mid-season is always provides a difficult task to compare statistical outputs, especially when Leitl, my predecessor, favoured a wholly different style and formation. That being said, here are the first team players at the club:

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Gebhart appears to be the better of the two keepers here but I can see that we’re absolutely nowhere near the level that I really want as he’s criminally weak on the ball. Early into my time here, I’ll look to see just how bad he is at player as a Sweeper Keeper but this is an area that drastically needs reinforcements, particularly as we have no u19 players who can fill this role, either.

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Passlack – club captain and ex-Dortmund star – is the best wide defender at the club but is certainly not of the same style as Jeng or Mbacke in Sweden. He’s small and certainly favours an attacking situation rather than a defensive one, making me really consider how I set out my backline and whether building with a 2-3 or a 3-2 is what is needed and, importantly, possible, at the moment. Lawrence is a monster but neither he or Hajziri are particularly good with the ball. In terms of youngsters, Kozic is decent and Adams is the only left-footed left-back we seem to have at the club at the moment but, as is going to be my style, these two will see a significant amount of time spent micromanaging their development and a significant number of minutes on the pitch.

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Masovic is an incredibly high earner and is probably best suited to a DM role as he doesn’t excel in the air but will be able to win the ball back. As a team leader, I am conscious of his slight lack of professionalism but his Determination will be a useful thing to pass on to others. Another really expensive commodity is Malik Tillman, who, on sale price alone, must be playing to get himself into the shop window. Probably the only true creator in the team, I need to consider whether the play goes through him or we work the lines and spaces more in a counter-attacking style. I do know, though, that he’d clear a significant portion of debt and the 18 months on a wage plus bonus deal of €60k per week would save us €3.6m before we factor in any transfer fee. Teenager Max Maier could be the heir to his throne though as he looks to step up into the first team along with pacey winger KohlerNduquidi would be the perfect box-to-box player if only for his trait, which will see him not go forward.

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Chibozo looks more suited to the wider areas whilst Alvarez can lead the line in another underwhelming area of the squad. I must say that I really didn’t expect the team to look this poor but, maybe, that’s why they are struggling to go anywhere and require the injection of new blood into the team, something that has been handled badly prior to my arrival. Fortunately, the youth squad looks like it could compliment that!

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This is where the money will be made. I’m delighted with the potential we have here and there are some really interesting characters, namely the three below, but also with some depth to it. Since moving to attributes for the v1.5 of my skin, I feel that it has rejuvenated my interest in talent development and I can’t wait to really dig into how these players are developing and performing at youth level before making the move to our senior side or elsewhere.

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Defenders:

Patrick Meijerman | Yassir Cherkaoui | Maik Fischer | Florin Maier

Midfielders:

Bruno Schon | Jan Sommer | Justin Thiede | Daniel Voss | Nils Weber | Christian Brahmer | Luca Koch 

Wingers:

Daragh Murphy | Marc Drexler | Christoph Kuhn

Attackers:

Carlos Molina | Kim Neuer | Augustine Tchetchoua 

Cherkaoui looks to be the a nice IWB style players, if I’m honest – given his passing and vision outweigh his ball carrying ability. He’ll sit opposite the star of this team, certainly based on quality at given age, in Fischer – who has all the credentials to be a really good inverted full back – given his height and not too shabby ability on the ball.  Sommer isn’t far away from the first team by the looks of his attributes – a hard worker but also someone who has an eye for a pass whilst Theide may be a decent ball winner, or, even another IWB/IFB kind of player. I really like how Molina’s attributes look – the stereotypical Spanish flair is evident in the young man whilst Augustine is quite similar to JBK in that I think he could do a job quite soon given his strong mental attributes.

My initial job is to create, very much like @MattyLewis11 and @Shrewnaldo have done, a squad of these youngsters and then create a tactical setup for them. It must mirror that of the first team but, if needs are different in terms of the player types – i.e. use of an IFB at left back isn’t common in the first team but, with Fischer, it is in this team – then I need that shape to be played. I won’t control games at this level but will spend time watching youth fixtures as I look to take as much interest in this group of eighteen as I do with the first team.

Feet under the desk. 13 days until Sandhausen, the bottom side, come to town – so much to do in that time! I’m hoping Germany treats me well but I’ve got myself a really nice little project

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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