#TheJenaJourney – Season Three, Update 1
Folks, let’s get this next season into context straight away. We have been made 50-1 promotion outsiders by the bookies, I think they think we are going to get relegated. The media aren’t much better, predicting 18th place for us, which sounds ok until you realise that it’s an 18-team-league.
We’ve won back-to-back promotions here at Jena, and we don’t plan to stop here.
In this update I am going to take you up to the first couple of league games in season three, by the end of this I might be plotting a third consecutive promotion push, or working out how to set up a team not to get relegated (not something I have ever had to battle with on FM!)
It has been a pre-season of change, I have cleared out the back-room team and brought in a whole new 1st Team Management Team, and padded out the youth team coaching as I have some really good prospects in there now, which hopefully will not get pinched this season. Off the pitch, I feel we are ready as we will ever be.
I had to strengthen the playing squad over the summer, as much as I loved my team that got us into 2.Bundesliga it would have got completely torn apart. Have a look at the attached photo to see the players I have brought in so far – Arsenio can play on either wing so will provide competition for last season’s player-of-the-year, young Conde as well as to Erhurt on the left. Lurink is a big, strong, experienced Dutch centre back, Susteric is a dynamic central midfielder, who picked up a hernia in pre-season so is out for a while, Dorsch will be back up in defensive midfield, brought in by my Head of Youth Development, Malcuit may well go straight in at right back and Marcelo is a young Brasilian striker to provide back up to Lux. I was tempted to more business, but I have four or five talents in the U19 squad who turn 17 in the first few months of the season, so they will graduate and get game time. Plus, as I am running close to the wage budget I can always look to add to the player pool with players on-loan from my affiliated clubs, something that worked brilliantly in the second half of last season.
Performance wise, pre-season has been decent. Following Cleon’s advice in the FM Central training post recently, I went for the boost confidence approach by playing a load of local sides and hammering them.
Jurgen Klopp has taken over as Germany manager after they failed to get out of the groups in Euro 2016. England won it, yes England won it.
I was offered “the next (Brasilian) Ronaldo” by an agent – so I invited him over on trial, pronto. I’ve not seen a “next” anyone for about a decade, I didn’t know this was still a thing on FM! His stats seem ok, not amazing. Then he went and scored four in his first pre-season friendly and then another in the last game before the league season started. I found this quite exciting, even if I didn’t really need three strikers in the first team squad. Then he wanted almost no money at all, it was if I was being told to sign him. Deal done.
Right then, on to the real stuff. The first game of the season was an away trip to FSV Frankfurt, who had avoided relegation last season by six points and the media reckoned were in line for 15th this season. I fancied our chances. In the build-up it looked like my 16-year-olds were going to be eligible to play after all, which suddenly gave me a dilemma at left back. I have a kid, Trinks, who is better rated than the more experienced Eismann. I decided to throw him in, sink or swim style. As the game drew nearer, it looked like I wasn’t going to get a chance to register the two Brasilian strikers and get able eligible to play. Friday came and went and still no opportunity to do it, so I had to include another youth team player, Muller, on the bench. To be honest, he is not one of my bright young things. This was the youngest Jena side ever – a 16-year-old, 18-year-old and 19-year-old in the starting XI and three 16-year-old’s and two 19-year-old’s on the bench. Was this the start of a new era?
Two-nil down within the first six minutes suggested not. An OG made it three in the tenth. Christ almighty. Four-nil after thirteen. We managed to stem the flow and got to half-time, not without Tino Schmidt going off injured. Second half, we got one back but then they got their fifth. Then it was six. Nothing like a gentle introduction to the new league, hey? Well, at least it can only get better from here – I hope we learn how to play in this division fast. When I looked at the post-match stats, they had nine shots on goal – we had ten!! Unbelievable.
We had six days to lick our wounds and pick ourselves up. There is no way I could switch the game off after a defeat like that, so dinner had to wait. I was able to bring back Geisler and Luirink which gave us a little more experience, but I decided to keep Trinksy in for this one, thinking dropping him could kill the kid’s confidence. Wehen were next, and they were a team we needed to be beating. I knew, even though this was only our second match, this was a key game to tell me what our ambitions should be this season. Lux gave us the lead and we went in one-up at half time. I took Trinksy off, maybe he isn’t ready for this level. Lux doubled the lead early in the second period, come on! 62 minutes, hat-trick time – this guy is incredible. I was unsure about him in the regional divisions, and here is is scoring a hatty in the second division. They annoyingly got one back from a corner, something that has prompted me to look at how we are set-up in those situations, but we held on for our first win. I was very proud of the guys, that is a hell of a turnaround considering we got absolutely slaughtered in the first match.
Our next fixture was in the German Cup, against Nurnberg. They are in our division, but a much bigger club than us. Actually, everyone in this division is bigger than us. Our ground is in the process of being made bigger so that we comply with league rules. It looked like I was going to be able to include the two Brasilian lads, but still no way of registering them for the league – which must be an error. However, my affiliate clubs looked to come up trumps again with loan signings – I brought in a left back, Fox, from Charlton and that also allowed me to register the two Brasilians! With Fox in the squad I decided to return Trinks to the U19’s to rebuild his confidence. Standard let me loan Pezzin, again, to cover in defensive midfield and Koc, a talented left winger.
So, how would we fare in the German Cup First Round? Tune in tomorrow to find out…
Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager available on Amazon