Way back in the mists of time, there existed a book that described how you could have travelled throughout the European continent for the princely sum of $5 a day. Budget friendly thrills.
Having conquered England with Norwich, I took my £1m buying philosophy to the home of bratwurst, the 1516 Purity Law and Hachez chocolate. With colossal juggernault FC Bayern Munich dominating and, in these times, a once-proud team were struggling at the foot of the league…
There seemed to be only one team to pick. SV Werder Bremen
August saw us kick the season off with the worst game possible. FC Bayern Munchen away. But we escaped Munich with a 0-0 draw. Thankful to get such a hard game out the way, we racked up back-to-back 4-0 batterings of Fortuna Dusseldorf and TSG Hoffenheim 1899
September saw us lose 0-1 against 1.FC Koln to start the month, but recovered with a 1-0 win in the Nord Derby with Hamburger SV. Ending the month with a 0-0 draw away to perennial European qualifiers Schalke 04.
October started well, a good 2-1 win over Rassenballsport Leipzig, was followed by an 3-2 win against VfB Stuttgart. A 0-2 reverse against VfL Wolfsburg gave us pause for thought before ending the month with a comeback draw, drawing 2-2 with Eintracht Frankfurt.
November was a decent month. Back-to-back 3-1 wins over Hertha Berlin and 1.FC Mainz 05 gave us a good platform, before tumbling off that platform with an unacceptable 0-3 loss against Bayer 04 Leverkusen
December, the coldest month, brought our hottest form. An unbeaten month, starting with back-to-back 3-1 wins like last month against both FC St. Pauli and Borussia Dortmund. An excellent 4-1 win against FC Ingolstadt 04 capped off the month.
January rolled in and 2028 gave us a very mixed month. A 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach was followed by a very poor 0-2 loss to relegation-haunted Fortuna Dusseldorf. We then surprisingly knocked off FC Bayern Munchen 1-0. We ended the month with a 0-0 draw with TSG Hoffenheim 1899.
February continued the changable theme, starting off with a lucky 1-1 draw against a team that seemed to have our number all season, 1.FC Koln, which was followed by a poor performance in the Nord Derby as we lost 1-2 to Hamburger SV. We then turned it around to beat Schalke 04 1-0 before laying another egg in the final game of the month, losing 0-2 to Rassenballsport Leipzig.
We then went on a tear through March and April. Eight games, eight wins, the first five games without conceding a goal. The outstanding result of that run was a stunning 6-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen, closely followed by a 3-2 win providing the double over Borussia Dortmund
May saw us closing in on the title. We needed Borussia Dortmund to slip up once and us to win our last two games. Our first of the two was against mid-table FC Ingolstadt 04. The away fans started celebrating as Huseyin Uncincu poked home in the 86th minute to put us up 2-1, especially as Dortmund were drawing 1-1 with FC Koln. Sadly, football is cruel and Uncincu was responsible for heading into his own net under no pressure on 90 mins to deny us the win, drawing 2-2. We still had it all to play for in the final match and we did our part, beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0. Sadly, Dortmund did theirs and won the title. This meant that we finished my fourth 1.Bundesliga season in 2nd place, three places better than before, cementing a UEFA Champions League spot for the first time since 2009/10.
Our DFB-Pokal exploits this season would start with an absolute bang as acadamy debutant striker Lukas Hofer would go on to score SIX goals on his debut as we put Bavaria Division side TSV Nordlingen to the sword, 9-0. It then took the introduction of club captain and extra time to beat recently relegated side SV Darmstadt 98 1-0. We then faced 1.FC Koln in the Third Round and they continued their hoodoo against us, battering us, but only sneaking the win in the 89th minute, 1-2.
In Europe, we were back in the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2009/10. In our group, Group F, we faced the oft-quoted ‘Group of Death‘; Manchester City, A.S Roma and PSV Eindhoven. However, we shocked the group from the outset, beating Manchester City 3-0 at home and Roma away in Rome, 3-1. A poor 1-2 loss away to PSV and two draws against the other two teams qualified us in second place and gave us a First Knockout Round tie against Villarreal CF. A terrible performance in Spain saw us lose 1-4. We had nothing to lose in the return leg at home and we threw caution to the winds. A late double from Arda Gursel (83, 88 ) saw us triumph on 90 mins, 4-1, meaning we were tied at 5-5 on aggregate and extra time beckoned. We would be down to 10 men for extra time, thanks to Nicolas Allard seeing red for a second yellow card. Extra time passed relatively simply, until the 117th minute when Lukas Hofer was shoved to the ground at a corner. Penalty! Arda Gursel stepped up to complete his hat-trick and send us through on a magical night. Sadly, the magical night turned to shit as Gursel’s poor penalty was saved and we went on to lose 2-4 on penalties.
An infographic of our preferred XI is below
Goal of the Season
Bargain hunting was the order of the day this season. (TPG: Tackles per game; DPG: Dribbles per game; CON/90: Conceded goals per 90 mins)
David Brormann: Games: 31, Goals 10, Assists 5, TPG: 3.59, Pass%: 75%, DPG: 3.35, Avg Rating: 7.23: Another of our Norwich raids. Left winger Brormann was coming to the end of his contract and we needed a good winger to challenge Baumann as first choice. He came in and was excellent at the back end of the season. He’ll be integral to this coming season and others.
Leon Goretzka: Games: 26, Goals 5, Assists 3, TPG: 3.05, Pass%: 83%, DPG: 1.21, Avg Rating: 7.20: Central midfielder Goretzka was a one-year stop gap to bridge the gap between the season and the very promising youth coming up through the academy. He did his job well and was allowed to ride off into the sunset.
Ciaran Hamilton Games: 0, Conceded —, Assists —, CON/90: —, Pass%: –%, CS: —, Avg Rating: —: Goalkeeper Hamilton was signed from the Australian football academy… I’m not sure why. Maybe the fictional pill addiction my manager has got the better of me.
Albert Geirsson Games: 8, Goals 0, Assists 1, TPG: 5.02, Pass%: 72%, DPG: 0.77, Avg Rating: 6.60: Left back Geirsson was signed after a trial as a free agent. He was to mature in the youth teams before any decision was made on him, but an injury crisis pressed him into service and he just about coped. Much more training & experience needed.
Elvis Addae: Games: 1, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: 1.50, Pass%: 83%, DPG: —, Avg Rating: 7.50: Central defender Addae was picked up as we had a derth of young talent at DC. He’ll mature and hopefully graduate to the first team squad. He made his debut in the DFB-Pokal this season.
Nicholas Dahl Games: 0, Goals —, Assists —, TPG: —, Pass%: –%, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Attacker Dahl was picked up as a free agent. I have no hopes for him making the first team, but hopefully I can tempt someone into a bid for him to make some money.
Goran Lucic Games: 0, Goals —, Assists —, TPG: —, Pass%: –%, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Full back Lucic was a signing in the vein of Dahl. Pick him up for free and hopefully make a profit on him.
Signed Players Out
Luaninha > Holstein Kiel (loan)
Adil Aouchiche > Union Berlin (loan)
James Trafford > SV Darmstadt 98 (loan)
Joe Byrne > LOSC Lille (sold for £3m) Joe was a £300k signing from Norwich early on. We were very short of available talent in that first season and he went on to make 37 appearances for us. He was never amazing, but solid and we made a profit. There really isn’t much that I can say more. He came in, did his job unsung and left, making us a profi : Signing Rating: 7
Goran Lucic > FC Hansa Rostock (loan)