Hello folks, and welcome to the now daily update of #TheJenaJourney – my #FM15 challenge to race Paul of FM Central to the Bundesliga. He is Magdeburg in his own save, I am manager of FC Carl Zeiss Jena and I am aiming to get my side into the top tier of German football quicker than him.
We finished off last night going into the German winter break, having qualified for the German Cup Quarter Final and climbed our way to joint first in the 2.Bundesliga, albeit third place on goal difference.
Today’s update may not be that much fun to be honest, as I am only planning to work my way through the winter break and then play the next couple of fixtures – one of which will be the quarter final against Sandhausen.
The first thing I needed to do to start this run off was arrange a couple of friendlies to ease the lads back in after their festive break – as we are financially in decent shape due to the cup run, I opted for a couple of easy run outs against local sides, just to shake off any festive aches and pains. The usual suspects were approached – SV Jena, Weimar and Kahla and matches were arranged for the week and a bit leading up to the cup game.
The lads disappeared off for their winter break, due to return in the middle of January. I made a mental note to line up their mid-season-pre-season training routine in a week’s time which was going to be a week of fitness/low, then a week of fitness/average, then fitness/high then back to the normal setting of balanced/low as all the players are on pretty heavy individual schedules.
As January 2017 arrived, so did the offer of a new contract. I chanced my arm in the negotiation, asking for the youth facilities to be improved. I got lucky, the board agreed, so I happily signed up for another two years. Then I heard the work as going to cost £1m – jesus, we don’t have that kind of money! It was great to see that the club wanted to commit to moving forwards though, and if, and it is a big if, we do get promoted into the Bundesliga we are going to need to do more with the stadium. It’s worth remembering, I haven’t spent a single penny on a player since I took over. That being said, I haven’t exactly sold anyone at a hell of a profit either, yet.
Van Baast headed off to Lok Leipsig down in the regionals, which was fine with me as Nana Welbeck was now registered and ready to show the Jena fans more of what they have had a glimpse of in the cup games so far. Still two weeks to the first friendly, god this is dragging (probably for you too!)
Finally the friendlies came round – we beat Weimar 4-1, SV Jena 4-0 and Kahla 3-0.
Then, right before the cup game, disaster struck. Karlshrue came in with a £400k bid for Lux, which was accepted as it met his minimum release clause. I had completely forgotten he had one, I was fuming with myself. My only back up strikers are two young Brazilians that haven’t had a chance to do anything yet, or some youth players. Absolutely gutted, and fingers crossed that he decides to stay – he has come on so much as a player this season.
I cannot actually tell you how much this bid has upset me, I was really looking forward to the cup game and now all I can think about is losing my best striker. What did I say earlier, I haven’t sold anyone for much? This would be Jena’s record sale. Awesome.
Either way, I had three days to get us ready for Sandhausen in the Quarter Final of the German Cup. Having beaten them in the league recently I was confident, and excited, and the thought of a German Cup Semi Final was an attractive one for sure. I decided that unless he had left, Lux was starting. He was either going to go out with a bang and shoot us into the next round, or realise how loved he was at the club and decide to stay. I had tried to entice him with a new contract, but his agent was talking silly money – so my heart knew what would be coming. I also decided to bring Erhart back in for Koc and Arsenio for Conde. Nana Welbeck would be on the bench.
Of course, the deal happened just before kick off.
Yan Perin was given the chance to lead the side from the front, and off we went. We got off to a dream start, Geisler’s corner to YP, to Tino who shot and Erhart flicked it past the ‘keeper. Come on! Sadly it lasted in a minute, 1-1. The game went end to end for the rest of the half, then with ten to go YP played in Tino and it was 2-1. I switched to counter to try and see it through to the break. We did, but then we conceded early in the second half, this was going to be a killer of a game. With 15 to go I through on Conde and Nana Welbeck. They had one disallowed for offside with five to go, nervous times. Conde then missed a chance when clean through. They had another disallowed for offside and the game went to extra time, thrilling stuff. YP looked knackered, so I shifted Erhart down the middle and brought on Koc. They finally got their third in injury time at the end of the first period and then the fourth early in the second. Heartbreak.
The only sweetener was the money, we got £1.1m for the defeat, plus the £400k from the Lux sale meant it wasn’t too bad a day for the coffers. I brought two false nine’s in on trial to see if I could find an instant replacement. These were the two the scouts had found:
It was a tough choice, both looked like they could fit in instantly. One had experience, the other a little bit more physically. If I had a preference, it was going to be younger man, just – but it was all going to come down to their wage demands. Their comparison is too evenly matched to actually help me decide at all!
The lack of an agent in Dereli’s life swung it in his favour. I talked him into taking £1500 less a week than he wanted and got him to drop his signing on fee from £16k to £5k – God I hope he can play a bit.
Next up was Heidenheim. I cannot lie, I was not looking forward to it. The team looked knackered after the cup defeat. We could not let this become an excuse for our form to slip, we had worked so hard to get this far. It was at home, and there was going to be a debut for Dereli from the start. YP had done well in the cup game, but I do not think he is the man, or boy, to fire us to promotion at this stage.
We may not have Lux anymore but we still have Tino Schmidt. The Jena lad fired us ahead against Heidenheim and I relaxed a little. Pezzin scored a corker of a free kick to make t it two just before half time. This was much better. We were solid throughout the second half and we closed the game out comfortably. Good team bounce back quickly, and we had done just that. Dereli had put in a decent debut, claiming an assist, so things were looking ok, things were looking ok. The win put us clear at the top, albeit for only one day. All eyes were on the Sunday fixtures – could Fortuna and Mainz both slip up? No. Fortuna won 3-0 so we dropped to second. Mainz played on the Monday and drew 0-0, so with only 16 games left of the season we were joint top with Fortuna.
I decided to leave Jena there for the night, it was starting to get stressful. I hate sittings where it is a long period before the real matches start, and that affected my mood for it today. I am gutted to be out of the cup and especially gutted to have lot the striker that had scored 47 goals for me since the day I took over at Jena. Of course I wish him well, but I really expected to see him banging in the goal that got us promoted. Never mind, when one player leaves another has to get a chance and who knows what Dereli might go on and do for us? The way we are playing, what we have done in the last couple of seasons, my better players are going to attract bigger clubs – I just have to accept that.
Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow, in a better mood I promise, for at least five matches – in there are tough games against Hamburg, Cottbus and maybe, just maybe I’ll take us as far as the clash with Fortuna!
Thanks for reading folks, see you tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter: @comeontheoviedo
Author of the “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” series – available on Amazon
Read the first chapter of “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager: The Second Season Syndrome” at www.chrisdarwen.com
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