Mid-way through my second season in the 2.Bundesliga and nearing four hundred days into my job, I feel a real sense of purpose here in Germany. I’m building something really quite promising at the club and I’m fully invested in the different areas that I’m trying to develop: tactics, players and finances. That being said – third place in the league is a little misleading at this point. Four wins in a row, albeit against one recently relegated side – Heidenheim – and two other top-half contenders, have papered over some of the cracks that have somewhat haunted our start to the season. Whilst I think we’re within the top five or six teams in this league, all of whom are a whole step behind Eintracht Frankfurt, I really do not see us as proper promotion contenders for a number of reasons.


I think I can use the four players, below, to tell the story of the season so far. Each one has his own goals and targets and these are forcing me into questions, thoughts and decisions – all of which are really enjoyable to think about. A full screenshot of each player’s profile can be found by clicking on the thumbnail, below.

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Augustine Tchetchoua – the scoring issue:

It took him seventeen league games, but, in the home tie against Furth, Augustine finally opened his scoring account for this season. The youngster has been thrust into the first team following an injury to Geubbels but has found the going tough and has not been able to replicate his form on last season, where his five goals in nine starts was a solid return. His worries are similar to our entire team though, to be fair. The xG table has us in a decent position but I’m wary of Mainz’s form at the moment and expect them to make a real push back up the table, even if Kiel are over performing. Our issue isn’t necessary goals, but, quite weirdly it is goals. Our goal output suggest we’re good and, looking at the table, it’d suggest the same but look at where those goals come – three against Furth, four against Regensburg, three against Magdeburg yet blanks against Mainz, Frankfurt, Paderborn and Aachen. We just aren’t consistently scoring and when you take into account our goals from set pieces, you’ll see why. Our set piece efficiency and the fact that our top scorer is 6’7″ centre back Lawrence with strike pairing Geubbels and Tchetchoua netting a paltry two, each, highlights the issue. The striker’s shooting outputs show that they aren’t taking enough shots, largely, or, when they are, they’re low xG chances. I think some of this could be solved with my next issue…

Carlos Molina – tactical thoughts:

We’ve developed a nice new 2233 shape by using a L(s) or L(d) when building up against a one man strikeforce, which is great. It’s an observation I’ve made and works nicely when needed. Yet my issues seem to stem further up the pitch, particularly with the AP(s) role on the right wing. We’ve lost a little bit of our customary directness and cutting edge and I think a large part of that is how FM creates the playmaker role: largely asking them to get on the ball and slow down the play. Whilst others may not feel the same and I do not have anything more than an eye test to back up it, I’d argue that Molina’s outputs – twenty times more passes than dribbles, suggest that he’s there as a link rather than a true attacking threat. By moving back to an IW(s) I can create a bit more of a combination role, that takes into account his creativity and his ball carrying skills. Furthermore, adding the ‘Focus play down the right’ instruction (not shown on that screenshot), I can reduce his risk to Positive, meaning he’s likely to pick the ball up in deeper areas, drive forward and still have Passlack on the overlap.

Justin Theide – player pathways:

Justin’s performances at 3.Liga side Lubeck, who were struggling in the league, coincided with the forced sale of Hajrizi for €800k to Odd – just weeks before he’d have walked for nothing, creating a spot within the first team. He’s just one of a number of promising youngsters that I have along with a longer list who are already integrating into the first team. I’m really enjoying the micro-management of this element and really believe that the lack of a II team here in Germany is giving me even more opportunities for these youngsters to move between squads. The next steps are to utilise the Brommapojkarna link in Sweden and find the right place for that 19+ year old market of a player whose development may not have quite kicked off. I don’t have place for them in the first team and (in my eyes) the only downside of a II team is I wouldn’t be able to give them minutes to play our way. However, the removal of that more risky scouting business, identifying only players ready for the first team has allowed more focus on bringing through and giving minutes to these players.

Maik Fischer – youth development:

Whilst not tracking to the degree of previous years, since bringing attributes back, I was interested in just how much my youngsters were moving on so have dumped their numbers into a basic development tracker, which looks at growth across the time they’ve been with me – the top set since I joined and the bottom since their promotion in March. The first interesting thing that I see here is the importance of that first year, with strong developments made by Samake, Bothmann and Schonwalder. Furthermore, there’s still quite a clear link between personality and development, putting an even greater emphasis on how I build my youth coaching setup. It has also produced some unexpected surprises: Stanislaw Majewski was missed off my initial screenshot gathering when I took over, presumably because I planned on releasing him! Now, he’s one of several first team candidates that I am now looking to move into the player pathway element of this. The team are doing great, sitting second in their U19 league and playing a slightly different version of my tactic, suited for the players in the team.

By the time I write the next update, the season will be completed, I’ll have had my youth intake – rated, in a preview, as ‘good’ – and will have had more time to sit and mull over the financial decisions I will have to make in the summer. Both newly promoted teams, Dusseldorf and St Pauli, sit in the bottom two, furthering my thoughts that we just aren’t ready. We’ll get a decent chunk if we finish in the top five here and, if I can remove some of the financial burdens at the club and replace carefully, as well as ensuring that I have another year here to blood these late teens/early twenties youngsters, I think we’d be in a much stronger position. That being said – there’s a lot of football left to be played


  • 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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