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We head into the winter break as one of only two unbeaten teams in top six leagues: of which it’s mainly the Premier League that shows differences between real life now and in game now. Our season, despite a blip in the Pokal – where I seem unable to actually piece together any success – and a second string Champions League loss to Bayern has been largely overshadowed by the league routing of Bayern and a wonderful last gap win over Dortmund. It was Bangura’s goal vs Dortmund (a clip far too long for Gyazo and, as such, one I’ve been unable to record and share for your viewing pleasure) that was the pick of them and really demonstrates the style that we are trying to achieve: conscious beating of the press before aggressive, direct and lethal counter attacking football.

There are, as you’d expect from a group performing like this, little in the way of weak links:

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Injuries – such as those that have limited Nikolic, Sarier, Hannibal and D’Anzi – have been the continued tale of the season but, with the majority returning to fitness, I can continue my exploratory tactical journeys. Jordan Bangura continues to be criminally underrated by just about everyone as he leads the scoring charts and has created three goals, too. Reckert has found his scoring form and sits level with Krassnitzer and Nikolic on seven each. Loanee Matteo Pilíc – an emergency bit of cover for the gaps within the defensive midfield area has done well but, realistically, won’t be kept on as my idea of developing Leipzig players for them doesn’t sit too well with me.

My transfer business as I head into January, however, means there are significant changes within the team:

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Haris Besic – at €15m – is my record signing but a long term ball winner who will get minutes this season and allow Hannibal to live out his dream of retirement in the Middle East. Not ideal losing a Team Leader and, even less so with that being one of two team leaders to go. Ferhat Duran – completely unwilling to sign a new deal – moves to Barca for €20m, just days before they were able to approach him on a free transfer. It does secure them a good player now and, likewise – whilst bringing us more money (which we don’t need) – leaves us with a gap now. In their places, two bosman deals have been agreed: Tornike Khuroshvili and Mladen MehanovicThe former spent last season on loan and is a tricky winger and the latter is an insanely talented attacking midfielder or striker who is taller than what I already have here.

Overall, the first team squad is pretty settled – both for now and into the future!

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With news of us leading the German national team production and appearing on the top academies in the world list, you’d be spot on to suggest that the future looks very, very bright for us.

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These six players, Schulz aside – given his less than six foot frame and poor first touch and technique – are likely to be given more and more minutes as the season goes on as I look to see if I can improve on an already strong core of eight academy graduates within the first team.

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You may notice that updates are becoming more sparse and less detailed and that’s not necessarily coincidental. Whilst my next two games after I’d written the main body of this update did not go to plan: here and here, I’m finding that our successes have come at the cost of a little bit of immersion. I know I need to shake the Neverkusen tag off and win something – and, with CL football and league football all I have left, I know my what my realistic goal is – but I don’t necessarily know what comes next, after that. Our squad is so aligned with my playing style and the amount of quality youth here means that I could pretty much never sign anyone else but that leaves me longing for the real intricacies of player development and tactical understanding. So much of my FM interest now revolves around tactical pieces – of which I’ve rarely dug into on a player by player basis – and player development, again, which feels somewhat linear and almost scripted given my immense facilities and strong starting points. Therefore, at some point during this (real life) summer, the Norseman could become the Norsemen as the son of Torbjorn provides me with the head coach job that I crave.

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Only an idea, at present, but this is something I’ve never done before in terms of my gameworld but, in a way, mirrors my FM23 save where Alex Barreto moved from title winners Atalanta to a rather more meagre Argentinian side. This time though, it’s family business

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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