THE YELLOW AND BLACK WALL

Just take a moment to sit back and think about the best, most passionate fans in German football.

The stand behind the goal, crammed with ultras, bouncing up and down in a mesmerising rhythm.

Colourful tifo’s displaying their love for their team or deriding the opposition.

Smoke billowing from flares. 

A fever-pitch of noise and energy… 

Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking about Borussia Dortmund, but no. This time you’re wrong.

The only correct answer here is Dynamo Dresden

Don’t completely discount Borussia Dortmund here though, as they were a  large part in the decision making of this save. But for other reasons.

NOSTALGIA TAKES OVER

Whilst sitting in an hotel bar in Cyprus, relaxing and watching the pre-game build up to the Champions League Final, the yellow and black made me feel a sense of nostalgia. One of my favourite teams to watch over the years was the Borussia Dortmund team of Jurgen Klopp. How refreshing and exciting their style of football was. The high energy, lightening fast, youthful attacking 4, the industrious but creative midfield and the defensive pairing of the cultured Hummels and the powerful Subotic

I sat back, challenging myself to recall each player in the first team which I did with ease….although Weidenfeller gave me more issues than the rest, admittedly. 

But even as the game started my mind kept going back to the front four. Whether traditional wingers were used, or the inverted skills of the legendary Marco Reus, the attacking midfield trio, sat behind Lewandowski were sublime to watch. 

Klopp’s Dortmund wasn’t just successful; it was part of a revolution in football tactics, characterised by intense pressing, rapid transitions, and an unyielding work ethic. This is the blueprint I intend to bring to Dynamo Dresden.

My recent tactical journey/philosophy has seen me move away from the use of wingers as I leaned towards preferring a 3-5-2 and narrow 3-4-2-1… and I had the urge to see if I can use my updated footballing philosophy and mould them into a 4-2-3-1 which is just as exciting and high-powered as Klopp’s Dortmund team.

Obviously, taking over Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t be much fun as I prefer taking a lower league team and enjoying the journey of the growth as the team is moulded to exactly how I want them… having to replace key players when the vultures pick off my best talent…

There was only one choice for me. 

Dynamo Dresden.

You can find out more about Dynamo Dresden and their amazing fans in this excellent short video by Copa 90 – Your new favourite club: Dynamo Dresden.

BUILDING A FOUNDATION: YOUTH & ENERGY

The first step in this journey is assembling a squad that embodies the principles of Klopp’s philosophy: a youthful and energetic team, capable of sustaining the relentless pressing game. I’ve not really attempted a high pressing tactic before as I’ve never had (or recruited) the players to make it a success, but one thing Dynamo Dresden do have is a good youth set up. Probably the best I’ve managed for a number of years. How their potential will translate to Bundesliga standard though, only time will tell.

I’ll try to focus on scouting and developing young, versatile players who possess the technical skills and also the stamina and mental toughness required for such a demanding style of play. The emphasis will be on nurturing homegrown talent from our academy, much like Klopp did with players such as Mario Götze and Marco Reus, using tailored training schedules and mentoring (another area I’ve been guilty of neglecting recently). 

ASSESSING THE SQUAD

Currently in 3.Liga, and favourites to get promoted, we have a pretty deep (large) squad. The first team squad contains 28 players, with a further 42 in the U19 squad. Whilst this depth is nice it makes it hard to give players a clear pathway for regular football to allow them to develop enough to progress into the first team. When the January transfer window comes around I’ll be trying to get as many out on loan as possible. 

Key players

Niklas Hauptmann is in his second season with the team after his move from FC Koln. Whilst he lacks pace, his main strength lies in running at the defence, using his Dribbling, Technique and Agility, which are elite for this level. Due to his lack of Finishing, my initial thoughts were to use him as a deep creator, however his severe lack of Strength would make me very nervous.

I’ll use him in a central attacking midfield role and expect him to be our main creative force in the final third. 

Final third creator

Tom Zimmerschied is a new signing from fellow 3.Liga team Hallescher FC, where he scored 10 goals last season. Whilst he doesn’t excel in any area he’s pretty steady across the board. Looks to be the best option as an attacking Inside Forward due to his main skills being his first touch and composure which should help in the final third. 

Attacking midfield scorer

Entering into his fifth season with the team, following his move from Bayern Munich, Paul Will is a versatile midfielder who can fill a number of roles, as well as being able to slot into the centre of our defence. Despite not being the best tackler, his Work Rate, Bravery and Aggression should make him a very good midfield Enforcer, either as a Ball Winner or a Halfback. He’s in the last year of his contract so I’m hoping I can tie him down for a few years more as he could be the heartbeat of our midfield for a few seasons. 

Midfield Enforcer

Finally, another player I’ve deemed as “key” due to his versatility and team-first ethic is former Freiburg defender Claudio Kammerknecht. In a running theme, he doesn’t excel in any area, but also has no real weakness. Despite this he presents quite a conundrum. I don’t want to play him as a Central Defender as he lacks the Anticipation to make up for his lack of Aggression. He doesn’t have the Pace to play as a standard full back, which also means, along with his lack of Agility, I wouldn’t trust him as part of a double pivot. Therefore, to get Claudio into the starting 11 I’m going to be forced to join in with the latest trends and invert him. 

Who knows?

I think I might need a lie down…..!

Hot prospects

For the first time in many editions of FM, there’s an abundance of talent in the youth set up. However, only a few of them are ready to be in and around the first team this season. 

Jonas Oehmichen is a skilfull 19-year-old should develop into a very good Inside Forward. Like so many in this squad, he lacks pace but his technical abilities should make up for this. His low determination is a concern so I’ll add him into a mentoring group to help address this.

Tony Menzel has the potential to be an absolute goal machine. However what could hinder this is his lack of Strength and Off the Ball skills. As a player with average Technique and poor Pace, he’ll need to work really hard to turn into a top player, but the signs are there…

Finally, we have Paul Lehmann. There’s a lot of similarities with Kammerknecht as he has no real strengths. He can cross the ball to a decent level but lack the pace to be a standard fullback. He doesn’t have the Aggression, Determination or Positioning to be a high-level Central Defender. He’s another ‘Tweener.

He’s another candidate for a inverting.

I think the FM Gods are trying to tell me something.  

THE TACTICS (vs The Philosophy)

As mentioned previously, the Champions League Final gave me a nostalgic yearning for the 4-2-3-1 of Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund. However, as we’ve just seen I don’t yet have the personnel to achieve this.

Since being converted to a lover of a back 3/5 I haven’t really dabbled in the 4-2-3-1. In it’s basic form it no longer fits my favoured footballing philosophy. 

In order to be the Gegenpressing machine they became, Klopp asked the wide AM’s to come narrow and the Wingbacks to overlap. This gave numbers in the final third, which were around to launch counter attacks upon a turnover of the ball, especially in central areas. However, as you can see from the second image, it leaves huge gaps down the flanks which gives a huge amount of responsibility to the DMs and CBs to cover. In which case, moving to cover wide areas will weaken the centre. 

One way I can resolve this is the use of a back three (part 1 of my footballing philosophy).

I could achieve this by using a Halfback but that means I’d lose the option of a 3-2 build up shape (part 2 of my footballing philosophy). A 3-2 shape could be achieved by inverting a wingback to form a double pivot BUT Kammerknecht’s lack of pace and agility makes me doubt his ability to cover that much ground and get back into position swiftly. 

Therefore, I’ll achieve this by using him as an Inverted Fullback. Here’s how I’m hoping the tactic will transform as the team moves into an attacking phase. 

What I should get is a 3-4-3 type shape. I will no doubt take some tinkering but it should be fun. When the personnel available changes, no doubt so will the system. 

My Footballing Philosophy #1

Why is a back 3 so important to me? Let’s see…

This image is taken from a Brescia game versus Lazio. We have just lost possession and Casale has the ball on the edge of the Lazio 18 yard box. You can see how the three central defenders have pretty much all deep passing options covered. Casale would need to play a pin point accurate pass to launch an effective counter attack here.

A ball down their right flank is initially blocked by Feiertag (#25) and Nkounkou (#17) and a long pass over the top would be challenged by Left Central Defender Sarikaya (#5).Alternatively a hopeful punt to either of the central pair of Fofana (#19) and Zaccagni (#20) would be handily dealt with by Rugani (#24) or Ferro (#3). 

With just two defenders in that space, either of those passes would be much more possible and much more dangerous. 

My Footballing Philosophy #2

Whilst we’re here and in the mood for tactical imagery, let’s look as why I like a 3-2 build up shape.

In these times of heavy (and increasingly intelligent) counter-pressing, it’s vital to allow your team the best chance of effective build up play, to avoid long, pressured punts upfield which get turned over. Afterall, that’s what they want you to do!

With most teams pressing with a maximum of two advanced players centrally, having three players in the back line usually gives a man advantage and allows us to cover a wider area which gives the “pressers” more ground and space to cover. This makes it harder to effectively challenge for the ball and cut off passing angles. A task made even harder where there’s two players sitting in front of the back line.

Here’s a 3-2 build up taken from a Champions League game against Man City. You can see the shape has allowed us to easily break through a 5 man press as Van de Beek received the ball from Mendes and immediately played out to the Right Wing Back in acres of space.

If Van de Beek was in a more central midfield role, and therefore even a few yards higher up the pitch, he’d be picked up by Nunes (#2). With Foden (#1) blocking the passing lane to the wingback, and Haaland (#3) tight to the other pivot player and within easy reach of the central defender, Mendes would probably have ended up playing a long ball to the strikers or playing back to the ‘keeper for the same outcome. 

Including the Wing Backs we still outnumbered the City press 7v5.  

I won’t go into any more footballing philosophy ramblings just yet, but at least you can now see my reasoning for the basic set up, at least in the defensive half of the strategy.  

Back to Dresden

The rest of the line up is pretty good – as it SHOULD be for a team who’s the favourites to be promoted up in 2.Bundesliga. 

Our starting Goalkeeper is Stefan Drljaca, a 6’4″ 24-year-old who is already operating as a “Good 2.Bundesliga” player according to my coaches.

Notable defenders includes Ball Playing Defender Kevin Ehlers, who is in the last year of his contract which he is refusing to extend due to interest being shown in him from bigger clubs. This isn’t an isolated issue though, and my defence could look VERY different next season. Centre Back Jakob Lewald is also in the final year of his contract and has already let me know he wants to explore his options.

The there’s talented left Wingback Jonathan Meier, previously of Bayern Munich and Mainz 05. Yep… you guessed it… he’s in the final year of his contract. Unlike the others he’s willing to re-sign, but only if I increase his weekly wage from £3k to £11.5k. Clearly that’s not going to happen as my current top two earners are on £7k and £6k. 

So that’s Ehlers, Lewald and Meier…. three of my starting back four. All likely to be gone. And gone for nothing.

Stepping up into midfield, below is a list of each player who can in any of the central midfield positions and how they loosely fit into the three roles I require from my midfield (football philosophy #3!):

We’ve currently got a good selection of creative players, a couple of decent Destroyers and a couple of decent goal threats. With Paul Will taking up the disruptor role, I’ll be moving Luca Herrmann back from his familiar role to be a creator from deep. 

Tom Zimmerschied will be the starting Inside Forward, backed up by the Greek, Panagiotis Vlachodimos, The right flank is more of an issue though, both players in contention for that spot (Jakob Lemmer and Lucas Cueto) are injured and will each miss at least the first month of the season, Expect Vlachodimos to fill in, backed up by Jan Rafael Shcherbakovski

The players who should be delighted at the prospect of playing with all that creativity behind them are the strikers. There’s three in the first team squad. The main man being 34-year-old, former Ingolstadt Target man Stefan Kutschke. Age might be against him but he’s still more than capable of being a top 5 striker in this division. Behind him, is another 34-year-old Target man, Manuel Schaffer, and the final option being 23-year-old Robin Meisner, who I know from my Hamburg days – a team I still have tremendous fondness for. He’s yet another player who is very well rounded without excelling in any area. Putting up 12 goals last season for Viktoria Koln, he’s been tipped as the Bookie’s favourite to be the divisions top scorer this season… so he and Kutschke will have to battle it out for the starting spot. 

Can Kutschke, veteran striker and club captain keep his spot at the starting striker?

THE REAL WORLD CLAUSE

As I’ve opted to start with the same challenges faced by real life Dresden Management staff, I’ve chosen the Real World database. This means any transfers made throughout this season, even including the January transfer window are scheduled to happen and can’t be stopped.

Therefore the following moves will occur:

Transfers In

Central Defender Lars Bunning and midfielder Tom Berger will both join on permanent deals just before the summer window closes. With Jakob Lewald “considering his options” I may choose to replace him with Bunning in the starting line up. Berger, however, will play back up to Paul Will as the midfield disruptor. 

In January we’ll be joined by 28-year-old Goalkeeper Daniel Mesenholer (who I expect will be a back up) and 29-year-old attacking midfielder Ahmet Arslan, who has plenty of 2.Bundesliga experience and seems technically very good, whilst following the trend of lacking pace. 

Transfers Out

Leaving Dresden for pastures new are Akaki Gogia (free), midfielder Julius Kade who joins SV Wehen for £425k and in January we’ll lose Paul Lehmann on loan to Efurt, Jan Rafael Shcherbakovski on loan to Energie Cottbus and finally winger Seo Jong-Min on a free transfer. 

A NEW LOOK FOR A NEW START

To fit in with the new dawn for Dynamo Dresden it needed a new look… a familiar look.

So, after reaching out to @CarrileroFM on “Twitter” he kindly made me new kits.

Here’s the home and away tops:

THE ROAD AHEAD

The road ahead will be challenging, but with the right blend of tactical innovation, youthful energy, and a strong team ethos, I am confident in taking Dynamo Dresden into the Bunesliga and beyond, hopefully emulating the success of Klopp’s Dortmund. It’s not just about winning titles but doing so with a style and panache that excites the fans and makes every matchday a spectacle. Here’s to a thrilling journey ahead and the pursuit of greatness.

 

Author

  • ThrowingCopperFM

    ThrowingCopperFM is known for unraveling complex FM strategies, often using Girona FC as a canvas to illustrate his tactical theories. Whether it's penning down comprehensive guides on mastering promotion in FM or sharing bargain player finds, ThrowingCopperFM's content is a treasure trove for aspiring managers. His active Twitter engagement further demonstrates his enthusiasm for football discussions beyond the virtual realm, making him a well-rounded and appreciated contributor in the FM community.

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