We have a bow and arrow and if we aim well, we can hit the target. The problem is that Bayern have a bazoka!Jurgen Klopp, former manager of Borussia Dortmund
The above quote has to be one of my favorites ever uttered by a manager; especially one that hailed from the German top flight. While slightly overdramatic in its language, it does the job in summarising the current state of the Bundesliga. Big money has now firmly rooted itself into the foundations of the league; with the likes of RB Leipzig and TSG Hoffenheim serving as perfect examples. Meanwhile, the older and more ‘traditional’ clubs that have been at the heart of German football are on a rapid decline.
It was only a few seasons ago that Hamburger SV – a club that had played in Germany’s top flight since the end of World War I – were relegated to the 2. Bundesliga. This season, we have witnessed both Schalke 04 and SV Werder Bremen drop to the second division – with both clubs boasting not only a large fanbase but firm roots in domestic success since their founding.
Football in Germany has changed in such a short space of time. Clubs that have adapted to the modern era are now enjoying a greater share of success; while those still rooted to the ‘traditional’ methods are languishing and being left behind as a result.
All of the above points got me thinking as to which club I would manage throughout FM21. Schalke would have been the easier choice, given their history and troubled era as fallen giants of the German game. But I settled for Werder Bremen. This club, after all, was my entry point into following the Bundesliga during the early 2000s and continues to garner my support – and anguish.
Why Werder Bremen & What Are The Aims Of This Save?
When it comes to football, Germany boasts a fantastic history of producing generations upon generations of players that have gone on steer the national team towards glory. The development and progression of young talent within the country has always peaked my interest: for a nation to have remained so competitive on the international stage on such a consistant basis has to be admired. Or, at least, that’s what I would continue to say had the last three years not occured. The 2018 World Cup set the stage for what would prove to be a turning point in Germany’s fortunes as a powerhouse in international football. Their exit from the Group Stages revealed fractures within what many believed to be solid foundations. Then came the delayed Euro 2020 competition – where the cracks were there for all to see.
For me, the performances of the national team reflect the stagnation of the Bundesliga as of right now, at the time of writing this introduction. For the past seven seasons Bayern Munich have lifted the Bundesliga title – by margins where the next best teams, often Borussia Dortmund & RB Leipzig, haven’t managed to catch-up. And whilst no one can fault Bayern for the success they’ve enjoyed, both on an off of the pitch, it does raise the question as to whether any club can break their dominance within the domestic game.
So why did I chose Werder Bremen for this current edition of Football Manager. Well, I hope that the following reasons will validate my decision…
1. The League Structure
One of my main gripes with football is the bloated fixture calenders that a lot clubs across the continent have to endure, season in, season out. Competitions whose reputations carry little to no weight; multiple domestic fixtures set over a short time period that leaves a club fighting a losing battle with fitness and injuries. I could go on and on, but it would deviate from the original intention of this introduction and it would have me arguing how the commercialisation of football is ‘killing’ the beautiful game.
Germany, for me anyway, offers the best solution. Their are only two domestic competitions that dominate the seasonal calender: the Bundesliga and the DFB-Polkal. This offers me a great route into developing a plan to secure domestic success without the worry of fixture congestition. Both competitions are highly sought after by all clubs involved, and offer great routes into the continental competitions at later dates – something I aim to achieve during my time in Bremen.
2. The Youth Are Our Life-Support
For the casual football fan it may be surprising to hear that Werder Bremen nurtured and developed plenty of promising players that went on to have successful careers with Europes biggest and brightest clubs. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Claudio Pizarro featured at a time where the club were on the cusp of European silverware. Granted, this was during the 2008-09 season in what must seem like a lifetime ago for Bremen fans. But the club had an ability to nurture and develop unrefined players and turn them into talents that attacted the interests of Europe’s elite.
Those days are long past, but it’s not out of the question for Bremen to regain it’s reputation as the beacon of youth development in Germany. Taking on a club that has, largely, underperformed at the domestic level means that we’re not going to be attracting the biggest names out there. Also, it means that we will have to largely look to consistent performances in the Bundesliga to help build a steady cash flow to bolster our finances – which will take time and plenty of effort.
This leads to my focus on prioritising youth development – arguably one of the more satisfying features of the game. On paper, Bremen possess great youth facilities and the club already has a number of talented prospects who are just looking to be fine tuned.
With a small First Team on hand, my aim will be to rotate the club’s most promising players into games that aren’t deemed too important. The exposure will be beneficial and it will give me the added bonus of reviewing what I have on offer.
3. Rebuilding The Reputation
For a while now Werder Bremen have been considered one of the Bundesliga’s ‘whipping boys’. Obviously this reputation has been earned through dismal performances on the pitch; coupled with the club dicing with relegation battles season after season. Honestly, it must be really painful for the fans to have endured such performances.
So there can be no greater challenge than building up the reputation of a once great club, right? I’ve always wanted to see how German football would look if Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund weren’t the ‘poster boys’ of the league. It just raises so many questions and alternative outcomes that peaks my curiocity.
Now, I would have reserved this last portion to outline my short & long term aims for the save. However, after a period of reflection, I’ve opted for just one, core aim: to have fun!
I don’t want to apply too much pressure on this save by hyping it up with expectations that could shatter my interest completely. I just want to get stuck in and run the club as I wish. Targeting trophies is always a must but, for me, this isn’t the sole goal. I want to develop the future stars of German football; achieve a commercial output that rivals Bayern and my list goes on and on and on…
Needless to say, entertainment from this save is all I’m looking for – that and a good story to share with y’all.
So, I hope this opening post wasn’t too text heavy. I promise that any updates going forward will include images and clips to help break up the paragraphs.
Until then, thank you for taking the time to ready through this introduction.