January is done and I held off, once again, from spending any real money. However, I have brought in – arguably – the most famous player to ever play for Bochum, even if his in-game career has been slightly more anti-climatic than his real-life one potentially could be. At 35, my eyes are not necessarily on the future with this deal, but I’ve never really tested just how far a goalkeeper can go!

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David Raya joins for just €625k from Tenerife, a mid-table La Liga side at present as I was able to make a profit, selling old number one Gebhardt for €2.6m to PSV. Overall, there’s a few things that are different as this signing is all about our style. Firstly, my Spaniard is an absolute whizz on the ball. His involvement in moves, as seen by this goal, is clear to see and his progressive passes and overall passes completed per/90 have already shown a significant increase on the man he replaced. Whilst being a couple of inches smaller and considerably more eccentric, David is far more Determined and his overall personality is, in my opinion, stronger. I really need to have a leader in this area of the pitch and we’ve managed to upgrade there, too. Lastly, the traits: Raya’s ‘tries to play way out of trouble’ is something that I have never experienced before for a goalkeeper and I feel is essential in us being able to bait a press and play through our opponents, especially as his distribution is just so good.

I managed to secure a deal that costs us just €25k per week now, with an added 40% wage rise upon promotion, taking him to still below our top earners. This clause meant I was able to forego a lot of the other expensive clauses and bonuses that he could’ve demanded – a treat but one he has to work for! Probably the most exciting area of this deal, though, is what he will also be used for: a mentor.

As well as a first team signing, I also dipped my toes into the water for two youth players.


Full player profiles can be seen by clicking on each thumbnail.

Lino could well be the heir to the Raya throne as I’ve carefully scouted a player who has enough of a ceiling to be good for us but also has a base as similar as I can make to the Spaniard. I’ve set up a mentoring group – which, already, has disappointed me and I will have to look at the longer term implications of this. My intention was that Raya would be considered a highly influential player and be able to quickly impart his traits but that might be a longer term project. However, Pedro will have this year and another year in the U19 team in order to develop well enough to move into, probably, the number two slot. Lambert joins from Belgium as my scouting team appear to be finding significant gems, such as Sitang – the first ever Botswana born player to impress me!

I think that these youth signings, allowing at least a full season in the youth squad will continue to be important as I look to work my way through intakes like this:


The entire youth intake actually doesn’t seem too bad. I’ve signed RasiejewskiReichRiceRodierSeidlSonkayaThomasEmre BilginFlessman and Leemhuis but my process is now far less about first day surprises and more about long term development, particularly as I have six players – below – who will be moving up from the U19 team in the search of first team football. It would appear that none of the below are good enough, at this point, for first team football here and all, but Drexler, have time left on their contract, in which they will likely spend in the 3.Liga or, hopefully, the 2.Liga or equivalent league.


I’ve been tracking attribute development across my youth players in order to be better aware of how I build my training schedules, something which I intend to review over the summer, particularly with what will be my largest crop of youngsters in the youth team looking to create a sixteen player squad that can rotate positions and roles across the youth team. I feel that our successes on the pitch and the number of youth players within the first team now shows that this is working but I do want to ensure I’m giving it the best shot!

Despite the relative doom and gloom about this, I have been impressed by the development of several of the new intake with Tarnowski and Schulz two of the better ones!

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We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch, if I’m being honest!

The goals have dried up – Tchetchoua hasn’t scored in ten games and scored more than once in a game just the solitary time since January – hardly league winning form! Even more worryingly, the goals are coming late, or early in the game largely – a show of our fitness or a show of my ability to motivate the team but not really a showing on continued tactical evolution and an effort to work out areas to exploit in the opposition. My newly skinned area is showing me that my players are, mostly, doing well at the things I want them to but Raya’s seven goals conceded in ten isn’t great, nor is Tchetchoua’s goal scoring or Fernandez’s overall contributions. However, Heidenheim are faltering themselves and the gap back to the chasing pack continues to feel like a nice buffer for me. Our run is isn’t too much: Paderbon, St Pauli, Osnabruck, Karlsruhe, Furth, Aachen and Kiel represent a mix of top and bottom sides but, as always happens at this time of the year, the momentum in me is dipping. I need to dive right back in and see the last seven games out to secure our promotion!

Nur de VfL!


  • 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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