Hello folks, and welcome to 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 was am aiming to get my side into the top tier of German football quicker than him.
Well, we achieved promotion last night and will play Bundesliga football next season. We achieved three straight promotions, a quite incredible feat.
What I am focussing on in today’s update is preparing ourselves for next season. I want to keep faith in the majority of the squad, but some areas are going to need added resource for sure.
I have achieved these promotions without spending a penny on a player, and I aim to continue that as well as introducing a couple of youth team players into the first team squad on a full-time basis.
We started last season on the brink of a financial meltdown, and we ended it with £10m in the bank, quite a turnaround. I am not about to start spending big on wages or transfer fees though. We have a good youth academy, and if I cannot offer a player a sensible deal to stay, then he will go and if I cannot find a sensibly waged replacement on a free transfer then I will promote from within.
I had seven first team squad members whose contracts were up for renewal:
- Schmidt (reserve goalkeeper)
Eismann was already on the transfer list, so he was going to be released. I think I will, sadly, let Schryba go as I want to bring in a quality first team centre back for next season. Geisler is getting on a bit but has been consistent this season so will get a new deal. Erhart will be offered something too, as the other left winger, Koc, is only on loan. Gmeiner is our back up right back and I have a kid in the youth team that could take his place, so I am not bothered if he stays. Arsenio is highly rated, but didn’t do much this season but I will offer him a deal and Schmidt will get a new contract as he is a good, solid back up who might even push for the number one spot next season.
Positions that I definitely need to strengthen are:
- Left back (needs to be quality, I have a talented kid that can be back up)
- Centre back (again, needs to be quality as I have a talented kid that can also be a back up)
- Defensive midfielder to cover for and push Geisler for his place
- Left winger (Erhart needs competition, but I think I also have a kid that could get involved)
It’s not the most extensive shopping list ever, so I set off to offer the contracts initially before looking at what my scouts had come up with this season.
The initial talks went well with all other than Erhart and Arsenio, both wanting way above what I want to pay them. I’m adding another left winger and a right winger to my shopping list.
My scouts have been working hard, that’s for sure. I have them set up on searching for first team players and then another search on hot prospects. I’ve decided only to look at the first team scout reports for the players I want as I am confident in my youth system.
The long list consisted of twenty players. As it wasn’t even the end of May, I had over a month to whittle it down to the ones I wanted to add. I am only looking for players that are available on a free.
By the time the lads reported back for pre-season training, not a lot had happened. If anything, I felt I had called them back for pre-season a bit early!
I chose the youth team lads that were going to be involved in the first team squad this season.
They may not be regular starters yet, but I will introduce them gradually and see how the progress. They are all pretty exciting prospects, and Giese and Trinks are already German Youth Internationals.
Pre-season friendlies were lined up against clubs with a similar or smaller reputation to us, all away from home and all paying pretty well. I won’t go through each game individually, I will round them up at the end.
These were the players that I ended up offering contracts to. Not the strongest set ever, certainly no Sustersic’s or Dereli’s in amongst them, but solid players on sensible wages that I think strengthen the squad.
I planned to see what my affiliate clubs had as potential loan deals to supplement what I had, plus I had been offered Anil Koc on a free transfer.
Going into the new season, we had this pre-season form and this team report.
I was fearing a similar start to the season as last season – a massive humping. I have to say the transfer window had not been that kind to us – mainly down to my refusal to invest in more than £4-5k a week in wages and certainly not paying a transfer fee. I wanted to see how we looked performance wise before gauging how much money to gamble on staying up. This might be wise, it may well be very foolish!
Tune in tomorrow to see how FC Carl Zeiss Jena take to Bundesliga football for the first time in their history. Our first game should be an easy German cup tie, before the first league game against Bochum, away.
Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager available in paperback or on Kindle through Amazon