In 2006 Reading were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Championship with a record 106 points tally – they spent just £1.85 million in the summer keeping the majority of the squad that got them promoted and finished their first season back in the top flight in a very respectable 8th position. The same year, Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United also gained promotion to the Premier League after finishing in second place behind Reading. They spent over £12 million across the summer and winter transfer windows (including €3m on one Claude Davis), bringing in 14 new players in total and finished that season in 18th place to seal their relegation back to the Championship.
Jump forward to the year 2021 and Greuther Fürth Manager MaddFM faces a similar dilemma – having just won Bundesliga 2 to gain promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2012, our biggest predicament is thus: do we keep faith in the squad with which we got promoted (and have grown quite fond of) or do we attempt to bring in a few ringers / higher quality players now that we are back in the big time?
As mentioned in my last post – prize money for winning Bundesliga 2 isn’t exactly astronomical; we acquire €17m for our efforts, however with an end of season bank balance of negative €2m at the end of the season (mainly due to upgrading youth and training facilities) it remains to be seen if Chairman Niall Quinn will be generous in terms of how much we have to play with during the Summer Transfer Window.
Despite our overall bank balance rising to €13m, Niall decides that €1.1m is more than sufficient to compete with the likes of Bayern, Dortmund and Red Bull Leipzig – let’s not speak of the fact that those 3 clubs had a combined spending of €335m on new players last season! Upon further review of the budget it looks like we have a small bit of room to manouvre, whereby it can be stretched to max €6 million through Budget Adjustments meaning we will realistically have about 4-5 million to play with – still a hell of a lot less than Neil Warnock had to spend back in 2006…
Positives – the permanent signings we’ve brought in over the past two seasons (e.g. Ryan Porteous, Pol Lozano, Josh Cullen, Kieran O’Hara, Ronan Curtis and Alex Blesa) are all good enough for Bundesliga at least in this blogger’s opinion and are as good as any players we can either attract or afford within our means. On the negative side – much of our promotion winning side were loan signings that we had hoped to sign permanently (namely Nicolo Armini, George Bello, Josh Sargent and Aaron Connolly). If we can perhaps extend/renew some of their loans and pick up a few bargains along the way then we might have a microscopic chance at avoiding relegation next season – what’s German for Yo-Yo?
Unfortunately we are unable to loan back Aaron Connolly as Cardiff fork over €7.5m to sign the Irish international from Brighton – this leaves us with a big gap in terms of our attacking options; although I am a big Josh Sargent fan he is far from prolific and our system of rotating him and Connolly has been very effective (basically when one isn’t scoring the other is). That makes signing a Striker our top priority – while Sargent is strong and good in the air, Connolly offered more in terms of speed and movement therefore our mission is to sign a player with Pace, Off the Ball, Finishing, Composure and a decent First Touch & Technique wouldn’t go astray…not asking a lot with €4 million to spend right?
Having previously broken the club’s transfer record with the signing of Ryan Porteous for €1.7m from Hibernian, we smash it again as 18 year old Noel Bilic arrives from HNK Rijeka for €4.2m. Though not a son of Slaven Bilic as initially hoped, Bilic is touted as the next Goran Vlaovic who 90’s football fans might remember scored Croatia’s first ever goal at a major tournament during Euro ’96, and two years later scored in Croatia’s emphatic 3-0 win over Germany at World Cup ’98 which saw them go as far as the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners France.
That pretty much wipes out our transfer budget even though our squad is still relatively thin – we also haven’t signed an Irish player yet this season as per our save rules – back out to the loan market we go 🚀.
A busy window! We approach our Bundesliga league opener against FC Koln with a relatively healthy squad, definitely stronger than last season however the FM Gods believe that we will in fact go straight back down as the media predict we will finish at the bottom of the league alongside fellow promoted side Paderborn…1,000-1 – I’ll have some of that 😄.
Greuther Fürth 2021/2022 Squad List ⚽🟢⚪
Goalkeepers: Kieran O’Hara, Sascha Burchert
Defenders: Ryan Porteous, Nicolo Armini, Enrico Del Prato, George Bello, Paolo Gozzi, Dara O’Shea, Alexander Lungwitz
Midfielders: Paul Seguin, Pol Lozano, Josh Cullen, Alex Blesa, David Raum, Ronan Curtis, Florent Da Silva, Anthony McDonald
In winning Bundesliga 2 we went on a 24 game unbeaten run after changing to a slightly unorthodox 4-1-4-1 asymmetric formation which we will continue to implement this year even though we have jumped up a level to the Bundesliga.
For a brief moment I thought that maybe I had unearthed some kind of overpowered / exploit tactic that had effectively broken the match engine – I for one have never had such a long unbeaten run, and fears began to creep in that if it was an OP tactic, my save would instantly lose that element of realism/credibility and forever have that element of doubt over whether it’s me or the match engine that is dictating our path through this save.
Both our unbeaten run and notions of an exploit tactic end with a bang as we start life in the Bundesliga with 3 defeats in our first 3 games…if opening defeats against Koln and Wolfsburg weren’t wake up call enough, we get smashed at home by an RBL side containing Timo Werner, Dani Olmo, Dayot Upamecano and new signing Marco Asensio – safe to say we aren’t in Bundesliga 2 anymore 🤦♂️.
Now I’m not normally one to scare easily (writer’s note – you would say that), however after losing 3 on the trot and getting absolutely smashed by RBL we are admittedly freaking out with 31 more games still to play with this team. We have zero cash in the bank and very little to play with in the wage budget, however we fall for the infamous Deadline Day panic as we go for one more jaunt in the loan market in a last ditch moment of desperation:
Having signed for PSG in 2020 and not played a game for them since, Antonio Marin arrives on a season long loan to hopefully give us a bit of extra quality when it matters – this team hasn’t experienced defeat since October last season, can our second Croatian signing help us bounce back and stop this season from ending before it has even began?