And we’re back! It’s been a little while hasn’t it? Pre-seasons tend to take quite a while to plough through, especially as I much prefer to play all of the friendlies myself, still on extended highlights, as I like to get the players up to full fitness before the new season myself.
It’s a big season in Leipzig. We come into my sixth season at the club as reigning treble winners. Our successes last season were brilliant, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and of course, the Champions League. We’re the team to beat now. We go into every match under pressure, expected to win.
How would we cope?
First up, the outgoing transfers. There’s quite a few!
Just under £100m brought into the club from selling and loaning out players over the summer. The vast majority of these players leaving are players that’ve found themselves on the fringes, rather than our first teamers. The main sale was Bernardo to Barcelona for a potential fee of £44.5m. He’s been a rock at the back for us and I’m sad to see him go. But he leaves as our highest fee ever received, and we’re able to replace him well with players already in the squad and a purchase you’ll see soon.
Pione Sisto never really got going for us. I like him a lot, but some of his traits just make him quite tricky to fit in and manage. Quite happy to make a profit on him, and get a fee of just under £20m. Stefano Sensi probably never really got a fair shot at the first team, and as such we make a slight loss on him. Alongside Bernardo’s departure, we also sell Nicolas Figal. He arrived on a free transfer, so delighted to sell him on for a potential £13.5m. As I mentioned, we’ve got other options in defence now.
Just over £20m or so spent over the summer. No major spending after our last couple of seasons of purchasing Havertz and Henrichs.
The first arrival was this man. He shouldn’t need too much of an introduction…
Monaco have been very kind to us so far in my time at RBLeipzig. They decided not to offer Thomas Lemar a new contract, in we swooped to secure him on a free last season. This season, they opted to let Kylian Mbappe leave, so again, in we went to get him to sign on the dotted line. My save is on the original database, so I’m led to believe he got a slight boost in the transfer window data update. He still looks pretty decent to me, and should do a job for us. He’ll have to adapt to fit in to our system though, but I see him being able to fit in anywhere across the 3 AMCs.
I’ve mentioned a few times in our outgoings section about letting some central defenders leave. This man is part of the reason why.
Strong in the tackle, great positioning, can anticipate and make good decisions. I really love this guy, and he’s been great so far in his appearances so far in the first half of the season. Robert was a bargain at £15m. Alongside him in defence, we’ve got two younger players stepping up to make up the depth in the first team squad.
The last of the arrivals I’ll go through are Jose Collazo and Junior Lumbanziladio. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign a Mexican wonderkid on a free transfer after I stumbled across Collazo as I was browsing through the youth team international squads. He comes in to provide some midfield competition and will hopefully continue to develop. The man with one of the weirdest names I’ve managed so far on the save, Lumbanziladio, arrives from Bayern. He’s certainly promising but has a bit of work to do to fit in to our current system.
Into league action then to start us off, and things are going swimmingly! We’ve been very consistent so far, only scoring less than 2 goals in a game on one occasion and that was the drab 0-0 draw to conclude our league action for the first half of the season. Wins in consecutive matchdays over Dortmund and Bayern would surely see us in a commanding position in the table.
It does see us end the Hinrunde in a good position. We’re unbeaten, have scored the joint-most number of goals, and are third in the table for least goals conceded. There hasn’t been too many clean sheets so far this season in the league, which is only a slight concern right now. If we’re still winning, I’m not going to spend too much time looking into it.
You can see we’ve played two matches less than usual. This is because of our exploits in the Club World Championship which I’ll go through in just a tick.
Delighted to win the club’s first ever DFL-Supercup and avenge that crushing defeat Bayern gave us in that competition last season. Another trophy for the cabinet.
We love the DFB-Pokal, so I’m delighted to make the quarter finals again, especially after having come through a close run thing against Erzgebirge Aue and a potential tricky tie against Schalke. We should beat 2.BuLi Karlsruher to advance to the semis.
Continental and Intercontinental cups
We could have made it an early season double by taking home the Super Cup against Europa League winners, Louis van Gaal’s Arsenal, but we couldn’t find the breakthrough against their 10 men. Certainly annoyed as we dominated and it’s cost us the ability to win 6 trophies this season. We did manage to win our second trophy of the season though in December, and become champions of the World in the process.
Our Champions League win last season saw us enter into the Club World Cup as the European representatives. LA Galaxy, complete with their DP Morgan Schneiderlin, would overcome Sao Paulo in the other semi final as we thrashed Al-Hilal. A drab affair in the final saw us lift the trophy. We couldn’t exert our dominance after two early Thomas Lemar free kicks, and a James Wilson (yes, that one) in the last 5 minutes set up a nervy finale.
We’ve completely nailed the Champions League so far this season. Similarly to our league form, we were hugely consistent, but on the flip side, we conceded no goals. The perfect group stage.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m bloody sick of playing against English sides in Europe in this save. Our Champions League final opponents from last year got drawn in our group, and we’ll face Manchester City again. They were in our group last season and we faced them in the semi final too. We came up against United in the knockouts last season as well, with Chelsea in our group the season prior, while City knocked us out in our first foray in the knockouts back in season 3. And if you remember back this far, United beat us in the Europa League final in season 2! So yeah, I’m sick of them.
Only really 2 clear standouts so far this season. Both come with their new personalised hashtags, because why not.
In my first few seasons at the club, we played a specific way, and Yussef Poulsen was a big part of that as our targetman up front. Since the move to the narrow 3 AMCs formation, I’ve struggled to really be accepting of who we’ve had playing up front as our main striker. Poulsen and Davie Selke have both moved on now, and Dadachov did have a relatively good goalscoring season last season, but he’s not quite exploded on to the next level like I perhaps expected him to. Usually the approach of many FMers would be to hit the transfer market, and that was massively tempting for me with over £100m waiting to be spent in my transfer budget. But I thought, I might not need to do that you know. I’ve got someone in the squad that’s been brilliant for us so far, is a personal favourite of mine, and is a natural at playing up top.
And so #Timouptop began. And boy has he delivered so far in the first half of the season. He’s got a goal every 90 minutes he’s played so far this season, 18 in total and has laid on 10 assists too. Timo seems to be one of those players that just performs above his attribute level. He’s got some shocking mentals, his 10 for teamwork and decisions, his 9 for vision. His 12 for composure isn’t particularly great for a top, top striker. If he continues scoring at his current rate, he’s on track to become RBL’s top league goalscorer ever.
Our undisputed player of the season last season is doing it again this time round too. He’s just a phenomenon. Now worth a whopping £50m, he’s hit 12 goals and 14 assists so far this season in 21 appearances. I’ve gone for #Lemarinho because I feel like he must need to be Brazilian in order to get into the France national team. He’s continually overlooked for international duty which is an absolute travesty, what more does he have to do. The man can do no wrong in my eyes, he really is a world class attacking midfielder.
Now the true diehards that are reading this might have noticed that I didn’t do an end of season summary post for RBS. When the time came to write it up and take the screenshots, I just couldn’t be arsed and wanted to continue in-game instead. I’m loving this save, and still loving being both clubs, so I’ll continue to give you a brief summary of all things RBS in the RBL posts.
We retained our domestic double last season, in some style, finishing 13 points clear of Rapid in the end. This season, at the halfway mark, we’re sitting 13 points clear of Rapid again, so we’re well on course to secure our third consecutive Austrian Bundesliga title. Continuing to get the club where it should be reputation-wise.
Europe, again, has been trickier for us. As you’ll of seen above, we luckily weren’t drawn in the same group again as RBL, however we did manage to successfully negotiate the qualifying rounds of the Champions League and qualify for the groups again. It was a second successive season of being drawn into a tricky group though, as Ajax, Manchester City and Atletico were our opponents. We did manage to win our first group stage match, but it came in the final group game against Ajax when we’d already lost the previous 5. We’ll keep plugging away and get there eventually…
The amount of interest in #FMSlack so far has been brilliant. In the last couple of weeks, it breached the 900 mark for people having chosen to join up and we’re well on the way to hitting 1,000 already. You might like Twitter, the forums, the Facebook groups. If you fancy another great place, that’s pretty much all other platforms rolled into one, to come and discuss all things Football Manager, then Slack is right up your street. Give me a shout on Twitter, look out for my regular posts with the quick invite links, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org