Football Manager Journeys # 9: Glory Hunter Season 4 (RB Leipzig)
My Glory Hunting so far has been incredible. Won Serie A with Inter in season one. Won Ligue 1 with PSG is season two, plus Champion’s League. Won La Liga with Real Sociedad in season three. It’s an incredible run…that’s probably going to come screeching to a conclusion here as I enter the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig.
The season prior to this Leipzig were managed by Luis Enrique and they finished eighth in the league and were knocked out of the DFL Pokal in R2. Leipzig finished below the likes of Werder Bremen and FC Augsburg in 2022/23. This is not the Leipzig of three years beforehand. It’s been a steady decline. They finished second and fifth in the two previous seasons. Putting Leipzig back in second place shouldn’t be too tricky. Unseating Bayern Munich? That’s going to be the hard part.
They’ve had frankly unbelievable player churn. Last season they spent £165M on a mass of players and sold £131M worth of players in the same window. This included Dani Olmo (Bayern), Nkunku (Liverpool), Angelino (Monaco) and Marcel Sabitzer (Lyon).
This is the current team. Dayot Upamecano is still here but he wants to leave. Peter Gulacsi, the starting keeper, has no contract and is in a proper strop about it. Adrian Fein has a completely insane £10.25M release clause. Mukiele wants to leave. It’s going to be a big old rebuild process.
First things first; Fein gets a new deal without the stupid release clause. I don’t think he’s even going to start for me because he’s the best player in the weakest position. I need a new midfield. Gulacsi re-thinks his contract and signs but I also get in Sergio Rico on loan, who I think is marginally better. Ben Godfrey comes in from Everton as I try to pre-replace the soon to depart Upamecano. If he stays they should be a superb centre back pairing. More loan business as I bring in Marco Verratti and Kingsley Coman. Real top-notch players. I attempt to get Hamed Junior Traore from Sassuolo as my midfield maestro but he prefers Atleti. Don’t be a mug, mate, they’re shit. I did them last year.
IN: Sergio Rico. Goalkeeper from PSG. Will probably start ahead of Gulacsi.
IN: Kingsley Coman. 27 year old winger from Bayern. Again on loan. Transfer fee was £60M. I can spend that elsewhere.
IN: Marco Verratti. Again, on loan. He loves me after our time together at PSG so it’s an easy option to bring him in. He’s probably the second best player at the club after Upamecano.
IN: Ben Godfrey. Central defender/defensive midfielder/right back from Everton. I hope to pair him with Upamecano. If he wants out, it’ll be Ibrahima Konate. Either way, strong signing. Fans are happy.
IN: Adil Aouchiche. A midfield orchestrator. He’s only 20. Has great vision, off the ball, first touch and technique. I’m going to get this team playing some football and he’s key to that.
IN: Harvey Elliott. Promising young winger, out of contract at Liverpool so he cost nothing. I owe them £2.5M in compensation though.
IN: Nedim Bajrami. He was going cheap and he’s a decent midfielder so in he comes.
IN: Angel Gomes. Feast your eyes.
22 years old. 20 flair. All the exciting attributes. Loads of fun player traits. This guy is going to be amazing.
IN: Pedri. On loan from Barcelona because he wasn’t getting in their team. Holy shit, this squad is just overflowing with talent now.
I have now replaced 7 of the starting 11. This may be the best transfer window I’ve ever had.
IN: Dominic Calvert-Lewin. For £13M. What a bargain. Man City signed him, never used him and flogged him off cheap. He’ll struggle for starts but having him in the back pocket is a bonus.
OUT: Alex Sorloth (Napoli, £23M), Tom Krauss (Schalke, £15.75M), Ellyes Skhiri (Hoffenheim, £15M), Konrad Laimer (Gladbach, £10M), Ademola Lookman (Augsburg, £3.5M), and a bunch of scrubs. None of the big name players have had bids come in. Gvardiol keeps getting bids but from smaller teams, so I can easily reject them. My transfer budget was enormous so I’m only selling players to clear dead wood out of the squad. It’s a great situation. Man City end up coming in for Gvardiol and I have to promise him Champion’s League football to get him to stay. Let’s face it, if we don’t get CL this season I’m getting sacked anyway.
August 27, 2023
HOFFENHEIM vs. LEIPZIG
This was the first real test for my new team. Going up against the other team I could have gone to. It wasn’t a particularly good performance and left me re-evaluating the way we lined up (4-2-3-1). Kingsley Coman ran riot down the right side and won a penalty that Aouchiche tucked away but we lost concentration and failed to control the game. Hoffenheim equalised late on and we’re already behind Bayern in the league after two games. Man for man we are so much better than Hoffenheim.
Final Score: 1-1
My tactical re-think is an urge to push Aouchiche further forward. Pedri clearly isn’t right for the AML position I had him playing in and the longer I persist with that, the more danger there is of me fucking the season up. So I switch Coman to left wing, Gomes to right wing and Aouchiche to AMC to play the number 10 role. A role I was convinced Gomes would play. Into midfield comes Manuel Locatelli, transfer listed at Real Madrid and available for £14M. He pairs up with Italian mate Verratti and now the team is set. My other deadline day swoop is for 17 year old Bayern keeper Isa Cirisoglu. He’s actually better than Gulacsi already and has enormous high potential. I paid £12M for him but I think that’s a snip. Bayern wanted £22M.
September 23, 2023
LEIPZIG vs. BAYERN MUNICH
Now, this is a real challenge. I switch it up, bringing in an extra striker and padding midfield differently. It’s proper Arnball stuff. It works! I forgot to switch around the set pieces but luckily Gvardiol has a long throw and we score two goals from it inside 30 minutes. Then I bring on Calvert-Lewin for an injured Eduoard and he scores number three. Dreamland! A 3-0 drubbing of the best team in the league. Aouchiche was once again incredible. He’s balon d’or material frankly.
Final Score: 3-0 Leipzig!
October 8, 2023
AUGSBURG vs. LEIPZIG
Just to prove that I don’t always get my own way, here’s a prime example of it. We go to Augsburg, who are decent, and play middling football. Coman gets injured so I take him off and bring on Calvert-Lewin, who gets stretchered off almost immediately. Gomes gets injured too so I find myself having to play Locatelli on the wing. Or at least wide midfield area of the pitch. He promptly gets himself sent off. We escape with 0-0 but it was an absolute nightmare from start to finish.
Final Score: 0-0
November 11, 2023
LEIPZIG vs. SCHALKE
And now the flipside! Schalke are actually good in this save and have CL football. However the lads demolished them here. We were coming off a 4-0 win over bottom of the table Mainz and creamed Schalke 7-0. We even had one ruled out for offside. Ramos got a hattrick, Aouchiche, Gomes and Godfrey all scored and a Coman shot went off a defender for an OG. A complete and total massacre. A statement victory. To make matters sweeter; Dortmund drew 1-1 with Mainz!
Final Score: 7-0 Leipzig
November 24, 2023
DORTMUND vs. LEIPZIG
We’re top, by two points, ahead of Dortmund. It’s a huge, huge game. Aouchiche hits the bar in the opening minute and Upamecano turns in a corner for 1-0 after 6’. It looks like being a great day at the office. However we self destruct a wee bit with Gvardiol going off injured and Kluivert makes it 1-1. It’s 50-50 at that point but we score two incredible goals in consecutive minutes on the break for 3-1 (Ramos first, then Aouchiche) and I park the bus. Dortmund score another to freak me out in the closing minutes but we hold on. A win away at our nearest rivals? Give me that Bundesliga now baby!
Final Score: 3-2 Leipzig
Halfway through the season we’re top, three points ahead of Bayern and six ahead of Dortmund. Which is only due to us beating both of them. No one else is involved. We won at Gladbach (just, 2-1 90+1’ winner), beat Bremen soundly and put seven past Schalke. It’s us, Bayern or Dortmund lifting the Bundesliga. Given my record, I back me.
JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW
Let’s just have a nice calm window. Oh fuck, here come the offers for Gvardiol.
OUT: Yussef Poulsen. He was gone on a free in the summer anyway so I manage to get £3.8M for him. Stade Rennais get themselves a bit of a bargain here. Fan reaction for this sale is E, which is one of the worst fan reactions I’ve ever had for selling someone. Don’t ditch them club icons!
IN: Leonardo Spinazzola. I desperately need to replace Gvardiol and Spina is actually transfer listed by Roma. He’s slightly older now, at 30, but is still a great player who can play either side. I’ve struggled for depth at full back this season. This will help.
IN: Serginho Dest. It’s my boy! He was available on loan, still, so I’ve nabbed him off Barca. I desperately needed a right back because Mukiele is fucked. He broke something in his spine is out for basically the rest of the season.
OUT: Josko Gvardiol. Hertha gave me £70M. What was I going to do? I put that much in as a joke. I wasn’t expecting them to actually pay it. I get an email afterwards saying the £206M received this season is a new record for Leipzig. No shit.
IN: Valerio Pastrello. He was in the youth intake at Inter when I was there so I know exactly how good he’s supposed to be. He’s 18 and has 17 heading, 16 passing, 15 marking, 16 bravery, 16 agility, 17 balance, 16 stamina, 15 pace. He’s 6’ 2” and is a natural in all three defence positions (fine, he’s “competent” at right back, but the other two he’s a natural). He’s actually better than Spinazzola already and should be my starting left back for the second half of the season. I may have paid an eye watering £35M for him but he’s that damn good. This Leipzig team will be set for years after I leave.
OUT: Vinagre, Saliba, Bajrami. All on loan. All players I signed because we were in a desperation rebuild period in the summer. I’ve got clubs to cover their wages. What Leipzig do with them later is not really my business.
OUT: Adrian Fein. He’s been bitching and complaining about losing his place in the team since I got here. I’m sick of listening to him yapping on and on about it. So I’ve sold him to Ajax. Arguably my fourth best central midfield player but he’s so annoying.
IN: Konrad de la Fuente. Barca listed him for £1.5M. Even if he’s just a player who hangs around and picks up a paycheque, he’s still worth it at that money.
IN: Dirk Bierbauer! An awesome wonderkid striker. I had to trigger his release clause at Bremen but he’s great at everything but finishing.
January 27, 2024
LEIPZIG vs. HOFFENHEIM
We scraped a draw last time so I go all out to destroy Hoffenheim. Wonderkid striker Bierbauer starts. Godfrey is suspended so Konate comes in and he immediately bruises his knee. Somehow this wrecks his ability to function. We go ahead in the opening minute through Ramos. Comfortable all first half. Kingsley Coman then goes off injured. Konate’s mobility is shot and Zirkzee sneaks in behind him for 1-1. We’re super aggressive though and dominate the game. 2-1 thanks to new boy Bierbauer! Konate ends up going off injured and I have to shuffle the back line around. Stevanovic scores for 2-2. We throw everything forward looking for a winner. Bierbauer is clean through on 90+3’ and he puts it wide. I told you he needed to work on his finishing! Points dropped again to Hoffenheim. Why does FM do this? They’re nowhere near as good as us but we cannot beat them. Water bottles thrown at full time. Dortmund, who were losing at HT, win 3-1 at Augsburg and Bayern win their game in hand too. On my match review screen the board give me an F. F’s in the chat.
Final Score: 2-2
OUT: Roberto Alvarado. Ajax came in for him on deadline day and he wanted to play in the Champion’s League. Seeing as he’d started one game this season I figured I could probably survive.
February 17, 2024
BAYERN vs. LEIPZIG
This is probably our biggest game of the season now. Bayern Munich are right behind us in the league. Leipzig on 53 pts, Bayern on 51pts. Dortmund also on 51pts. If we win here we are one step closer to the league. We thumped Bayern 3-0 earlier in the season. I’ve tried to pick a similar line up to that one. No shots after 18’ and Sane curls a free kick in off the inside of the post. Fuck. 21’ and they hit us on the break with Gnabry, it’s 2-0. Double disaster. I can’t even be mad, it’s two brilliant goals. Second half we come out firing but we cannot score. Aouchiche misses a one on one. Ramos has a close in effort saved and the shots just keep on coming.
We finish with a 2-0 loss but we have more shots, higher xG, more possession, way more highlights. I feel like this is a big loss in a game we were really unlucky in. Sane’s free kick was unsavable. Gnabry’s break away goal shouldn’t have happened. We were set up perfectly but Teze decided to jog towards the ball instead of staying with his man. If Dest was 100% or Mukiele wasn’t injured, that goal doesn’t happen.
Final Score: 2-0 Bayern
March 10, 2024
LEIPZIG vs. AUGSBURG
It’s still super tight at the top. 2 points separate the top three teams…and then this bullshit happens. Augsburg are a midtable side. Mediocre players throughout. They don’t threaten us at all. First half is us, huffing and puffing, but we should be ahead. Gomes and Godfrey both stretchered off before half time. Then they score from a corner on 43’. It’s ok. Plenty of time left. Calvert-Lewin, who came on for Gomes, equalises and then nothing…until Soares scores for them. A free kick thirty yards out. Nowhere near the corner. Basically straight at an outstanding goalkeeper. A total bullshit goal. I go as attacking as I can but the lads have no response. Are we treating that Bayern loss as season over? Fucks sake. A hell of a way to blow our unbeaten home record and easily the worst performance of the season.
Final Score 2-1 Augsburg.
^ our line is the white one
I’m sat here stewing. The chances of winning four consecutive titles in four countries is imploding in front of my very eyes. However, it’s not over. Some wild results start to kick in. Dortmund beat Bayern to go four points clear but in their very next game they lose to ten men Fortuna Dusseldorf! That’s absolutely out of nowhere. Bayern are next to fuck up, drawing 0-0 against bottom of the table Mainz. Meanwhile we navigate a tricky trip to Schalke with a 2-0 win. Now we’re back top on 71 pts, Dortmund 70, Bayern 67, Gladbach 58.
April 20, 2024
LEIPZIG vs. DORTMUND
I’m expecting a tense, tight game like the 3-2 win in Dortmund. It’s absolutely nothing of the sort. Adil Aouchiche steals in behind the defence for 1-0 after 15’ played. We then absorb a spell of Dortmund pressure before Calvert-Lewin fires home from a Mukiele cross. 2-0 just before half time. The second half I’m pretty sure Dortmund just fucked off home because we wiped the floor with them. Ramos helped himself to two goals, Aouchiche got a second and Gomes scored. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more convincing win over a title rival. If you came here for drama…sorry!
Final Score: 6-0 Leipzig
This leaves the league looking like this. A commanding position. Four games left, four points clear, superior goal difference. A chance to win the title with games to spare. Still in the DFB Pokal as well. A reminder here that Leipzig have never won either. Finishing runners up in both. Always the bridesmaids. The last time they won a title was 2013 and that was the Regionalliga Nordost!
April 24, 2024
DFB POKAL SEMI-FINAL
HERTHA vs. LEIPZIG
We’re off to Berlin and full of beans and confidence. Calvert-Lewin scores a superb goal after 10’, smashing it first time into top bins with his left peg. I knew we were onto something right there and then. Upamecano heads in a Verratti corner for 2-0, Ramos adds a third and Aouchiche a fourth before the break. Four shots on target, four goals, 4-1 at HT and it’s already over. We came, we saw, we conquered. DCL, Aouchiche and Coman add to the misery in the second half and two miracle goalline stops are the only thing that prevent an even more embarrassing scoreline and a goal for man of the match Marco Verratti who comes away with three assists. We battered them here. What a week this has been.
Final Score: 7-1 Leipzig
We’ll face Bayern in the final after a demotivated Dortmund capitulated in the other semi. I’ve completely knocked the fight out of them with that 6-0. I’ve no fear of Dortmund catching us in the league now. It won’t happen. Only worried about Bayern.
April 28, 2024
HERTHA vs. LEIPZIG
Yes, it’s a repeat of the semi just days later in the league. It’s not the manic goal fest of the cup though. 0-0 at HT and their keeper is playing a blinder. Dest goes down in the box just before the hour though and up steps Marco Verratti. Six pens this season, six goals. He’s Mr Reliable. So naturally he completely misses the target. Luckily we play superb football after that. Calvert-Lewin scores after pinball in the box and then Verratti makes amends with a sensational strike from outside the box.
Final Score: 2-0 Leipzig
May 4, 2024
LEIPZIG vs. UNION BERLIN
I wasn’t going to talk about this game but this became the story of how we won the league. 15’ gone and Gabigol fires Gladbach into a 1-0 lead over Dortmund. If we win and Dortmund lose, we cannot be caught by Dortmund. Aouchiche scores moments later. Everything is right with the world. Calvert-Lewin adds a poachers second. He’s turned out to be great for me second half of the season. Upamecano heads in a corner. 3-0 and cruising at HT. Gladbach come out firing in the second half and Gabigol nets again. Dortmund are in the mud. Ramos ends up scoring a second half hattrick for me and Dest scores his first goal since joining on loan from Barca with a cracking strike. Union are brushed aside. The last ten minutes is just pure joy as Gladbach add two more and Ramos bangs in a pen for his hattrick. It’s a glorious day!
Final Score: 7-1 Leipzig (Yes, 7-1 AGAIN, we love scoring goals)
Elsewhere: If Bayern lose away at Augsburg we win the title. It’s 0-0 at HT but David Otto, god bless him, rinses Bayern’s defence for two goals. Framberger gets sent off but Samuel Bamba scores a third anyway. Bayern have fucked it. We win the league with two games left! The dream has come true. Leipzig win their first Bundesliga!
May 25, 2024
DFB POKAL FINAL
BAYERN vs. LEIPZIG
What a final this is. It’s got everything. Jamal Musiala puts Bayern ahead on 32’ and it’s a tense game with lots of half chances. Dirk Bierbauer scores a sensational equaliser from range. His form over the last couple of games gets him in there ahead of DCL and he proves his point here. 1-1. Then calamity. A blatant dive and Bayern win a pen but Cirisoglu saves! Goretzka hangs his head in shame. It doesn’t matter though because Dani Olmo scores shortly afterwards. 2-1 Bayern. It’s change time and I hook Coman for DCL, moving Bierbauer out wide. DCL’s first touch is curling the ball past Neuer for 2-2. I love this game.
So we head into extra time and I figure we’re going to be really tired and struggle because we’ve played an aggressive up tempo game. Nah. It’s full on Bielsaball. We work our asses off and Bayern fade. 95’: Bierbauer scores again. This time cutting inside from the right to finish. Upamecano converts a Bierbauer freekick with time running out for 4-2 and the cup is ours. Ramos adds a fifth to take the piss because that’s what we do. I’m really going to miss this Leipzig team. It was a special season and I’ve left them in a good place.
Final Score: 5-2 Leipzig!
Well, that was just about flawless. I took an eighth place Leipzig team with a bad squad to the double. It’s true, I spent a small fortune in the process but completely overhauling a team is really hard to do in one transfer window. I brought in some loan signings like Verratti and Coman to keep spending down but also invested heavily in the future. Isa Cirisoglu is going to be the best keeper in this save. I firmly believe that. He’s shot up from a one star player to a three star player during the season. I’ve got the editor and I checked. He went from 138 to 155. He has 180 potential. I also added my youth intake left back/centre back from Inter Valerio Pastrello. He’s 147 current, 172 potential. Bierbauer is 160/170. Those are players that will hold this team together for a decade if they want to retain them. I don’t think I’ve ever left a team in such a good place on a Glory Hunter. I reckon they’ll dominate the Bundesliga for years. Now watch them finish fucking sixth next year.
ALL TIME BEST XI
KEYLOR NAVAS (PSG)
NORDI MUKIELE (LEIPZIG)
ALEKANDAR KOLAROV (INTER)
KURT ZOUMA (PSG)
JOEL MATIP (SOCIEDAD)
MARCO VERRATTI (PSG/LEIPZIG)
KYLIAN MBAPPE (PSG)
ADIL AOUCHICHE (LEIPZIG)
LAUTARO MARTINEZ (INTER)
ROMELU LUKAKU (INTER)
What’s available? Atletico Madrid and Villarreal are the top jobs but I’ve already done Spain. Zenit St Petersburg is a possibility. In England there’s nothing apart from Villa, who are in the Championship. I know I like a challenge but that might be a bit much. By the time I get to the job centre Zenit has gone. So the options are as follows:
- Slavia Prague
- AEK Athens
- RB Salzburg
The latter would be very on brand to go from one Red Bull to the other. Braga came third in Portugal last year. Slavia are one of the two big dogs in the Czech league. AEK are a big club. I don’t really have a preference so I send it over to Twitter.