The Pentagon X: Drittes Jahr des Ruhms
Paderborn. Season 3. You know the drill. We’ve had back-to-back promotions amid chaotic player turnover. Let’s do the transfers bit first!
Jannes Wieckhoff (free) – he was on too much money
Tony Kocher (free) – likewise, he wanted less to renew but wanted to be an important cog and he’s simply not going to be
Florian Kiza (free) – chalk this one up to experience
Noel Czapelka (Cracovia, free) – wouldn’t sign a new contract
Fabio Lanzinger (Nurnberg, £975k) – the fans are mad, I’m overjoyed
Zoltan Bognar (Brisbane Roar, £1.6M) – here on loan last year, signed permanently
Fabian Wiesner (Schalke, £2.5M) – as above
Diyan Georgiev (Ludogerets, £2.6M) – so below
Burak Ince (Braunschweig, free) – I had him in my Dundee Utd save two years ago and he was magic. I don’t even play the same formation but no fee, no lose
Dylan Mellado (Atletico de Rafaela, £2.4M) – Can play either wing, or centre mid. He’s 21 so not quite wonderkid territory but expecting big things
Dimitis Papapanagis (Augsburg, £500k) – knew him from Australia, very good centre back. Jumping reach 18, nothing will get over his head!
This was my number one summer target. He’s so good. Arsenal got him after I got to the contract negotiation stage ahead of everyone else on a £4M offer only for him to reject it after one renegotiation. I then had to resubmit, and his demands went from £15k to £40k. We were so close. Oddly enough, Arsenal are only paying him £21k. Correction, we’re only paying him £21k as he joins us on loan.
Baptiste Delhaye (Arsenal, loan)
Adriano (Figueirense, £1.1M) – Brazilian wonderkid striker
The final piece in our puzzle is replacing Gaston Perez. And it’s this guy; Jack Minall. I wanted him when he left Charlton, but Man Utd came in and that was that. Well, Man Utd decided to cash in on him, £2.3M. He becomes one of our highest paid players but look at him! He’s a rock.
I’m happy with our team but the pre-season preview reckons we’re fucked. I had no options on our pre-season expectations. It literally just said “relegation playoff”. If we finish P16 we’ll have achieved our goal. Just don’t get relegated. I’m surprised we’re not bottom on the preview. I’m aware we have less talented players than everyone else, but they’re young and hungry and the only way is up.
This is a bit out of left field. I would adore the Italy job but sadly the rules of the Pentagon don’t allow it. My chances of getting a whopping great big reputation boost for winning a tournament with Italy is against the rules. It’s sad, because I love a bit of Italy. I also turn down job offers from Poland and Slovenia.
Opening day of the season we lose 1-0 to Augsburg, literally the only team worse than us according to the bookies. We don’t even play well. It’s going to be a long season. I can’t get better players than this. Second game we hold Gladbach to a draw until they score with the last kick of the game. Our first point comes in a 3-3 draw at Mainz. Adriano plays ahead of Demissie in that one and the partnership with Croce looks like it might work.
Early season form scares me, so in comes Julius Allentoft from Arsenal on loan. That makes this the new starting XI. Delhaye should be in midfield but is currently injured. Both full backs need to improve. Adriano can potentially crack that front two if he improves a little. Sordo could play in that team but where? Six games into the season and we still haven’t won. A 0-0 with Freiburg is our best performance. The good news is that we’re still above Union Berlin and Hoffenheim, and we’re only one point behind Freiburg. In the battle of the crap, fourth bottom is a big win. For the first time in this career, I’m losing a lot and it is shit. I hate it. The good news is, most of the players seem to be improving. Michele Croce has played for Italy and is up to ****½ on the golden star ratings. Jorge Marsiglia is the only one not improving because he’s 31 and is losing attributes like he’s got a hole in his attribute pocket.
Game day 8 and after a draw with Hertha we slip into the bottom two, thanks to Union Berlin beating Mainz. Thankfully Bayern give Freiburg a 4-1 pasting and we end the weekend in P16. Team meeting time as morale is bad and the boys respond with a 1-0 win away at Koln. An actual win! It only took 3 months. A victory made all the sweeter by defeats for Union Berlin, Freiburg and Hoffenheim. Another 8 wins and we should stay up! Next round of fixtures Union wins a 6 pointer over Freiburg, Hoffenheim lose and we just about edge Stuttgart 3-2, having led 3-0 at half-time with Stuttgart down to ten players.
We continue to have good results with a 2-1 win over bottom of the table Hoffenheim. Union Berlin, Freiburg, Koln and Wolfsburg all lose, so we jump up to P11. Above Augsburg and Mainz as well. I got Philip Cocu sacked. Sorry mate.
Now the big choice. We’re in the middle of a takeover. No idea what’s going to happen but presumably CA$H injection*. And Sassuolo (currently P2 in Serie A) offer me a job. What do I do? Stay at relegation threated Paderborn, who I’ve dragged up two divisions and have a young squad or move to a team that might squeak into Europe this season, but everyone is old as dirt? I sleep on it…and stay. Sassuolo have too many old players. It would be a complete rebuild. Their finances are a mess. They might get into Champion’s League, but I doubt it. Also, I don’t want to hate Sassuolo, which is what would probably happen. Serie A is something I’m interested in doing extensively at some point.
*This never happened at all. Dirk just carried on being Dirk and in charge.
Basically, my issue is that my players need to improve and I have faith they will. Joao Roberto (GK) is definitely better for having played at this level. Fabian Wiesner (DR) is too. Obviously, Michele Croce is a fucking baller but we’ll never sign him permanently. I need the likes of Georgiev, Mellado and Delhaye to start living up to their lofty potential abilities. It doesn’t help that Raebiger is clearly struggling as a playmaker at this level, Marsiglia has aged out badly and Mellado is struggling to settle in. Daniel Demissie doesn’t seem capable of playing at this level either but that has opened the door for Adriano to get regular football, albeit in a role he’s not good at.
In other news, I’ve finally maxed out my coach’s licences. I am a Continental Pro. Only took me a decade.
That leaves me with these coaching attributes. I have no idea what goalkeeping is and I’m still on adaptability 1, which is a bit odd. Having high discipline and motivating was supposed to keep the troops in line but it doesn’t seem to work. Maybe I’d have more problems without that?
In the league, the bottom teams keep losing. We get a 1-1 draw with Leipzig, which is probably our best result so far. On the same day Freiburg beat Gladbach 3-1. As you can see, we have a nice little cushion on Union Berlin, Freiburg and Hoffenheim. We’ve even got Koln in there as a buffer. We’re not getting blown away. The day after I pick up that screenshot both Hoffenheim and Koln win. I knew Hoffenheim wouldn’t be shit all season, but they’ve not won at all and then boom, 3-0 away at Wolfsburg. Union Berlin spank Koln 4-1 on a day where we get hammered by Bayern. We’re looking over our shoulder as Union are now in striking range. Augsburg, who are the worst team in the division, are bizarrely in P8 and keep winning. I was counting on them being worse than us.
This relieves the pressure a bit. In a game where our left back and both forwards were injured, Paderborn beat Schalke 1-0. Dylan Mellado stealing the ball from their left back for the goal. I’ve started picking Mvouama to partner Raebiger and sticking Delhaye out wide. I don’t think Delhaye has the required personality for a battling central midfield spot. He frequently gives the ball away. So, out wide he goes and we beat Schalke.
Next game is a big one, Union Berlin away. Still missing Croce and Adriano. No problem, 5-1. While leaving Bognar out is unfortunate, the midfield is better balanced like this. The Delhaye situation has caused issues for us, and they seem to be finally fixed. 19 points. Our target, for safety, is 30 points. Four more wins and we should stay up. Our next four home games are Augsburg, Mainz, Freiburg and Dortmund. That could be 3 of 4 wins. The home game after that is Koln.
We’re halfway through the season. Everyone is off for a smoke break after Christmas. P11 is brilliant. Thrilled to be that high up the table. 7 points is the cushion on the relegation play-off spot, which is also fantastic. We seem to be improving. We rock into January and the transfer window swings open, clocking David Sordo in the back of the head. I reject a £10M bid for him, because I know he’s worth more, only to get the emails about contracts expiring and I FORGOT TO EXTEND HIM. He signs for Aris as I’m panicking trying to offer him out for various values. That’s £10M in the bin. Fuck. Are all Greek clubs just super rich?
Bruno (Holsten Kiel, loan) – wanted playing time, wasn’t getting it. Hopefully will develop and come back
Burak Ince (Werder Bremen, loan) – hasn’t quite lived up to my memory of him from previous FMs. Think he’s been downgraded
Nicolas Coste (Norwich, £1.2M) – I don’t trust him, he’s a big lumbering buffoon.
Pedrinho (San Jose, loan) – wonderkid striker who isn’t improving at all, needs game time
Theo Le Bris (Real Oviedo, nominal) – utility player who wasn’t good in any particular position, wanted game time, so he’s gone
Dimitris Papapanagis (Hannover, loan) – wanted more playing time
I had a deal for Lanre Okoro, a Nigerian forward, but he signed for Bournemouth. I was fine with this until I found out Bournemouth are in the Championship. Fuck that league. Clearly, he went for the money. They actually doubled my offer.
O’Shea Ellis (Luton Town, £2.8M+ add ons) – should pair up with Raebiger in central midfield to allow Delhaye to continue out wide. A grafter, he’s better than Mvouama.
Antonio Mauri (Atletico Madrid, £1.7M) – Right Back. Not quite as good as Wiesner but we had no cover and he’s capable. Could probably rotate the position now! Can also play left back equally as well.
Nicolas Audren (Southampton, £1M +add ons) – striker, will dislodge Demissie from the rotation. Been sniffing around him for a couple of years. Couldn’t afford him before!
Evgeny Demishnin (Bayern, £115k) – back up keeper, who doesn’t stink. Is also German.
Jovica Milovanovic (Patro Eisden, £725k) – youthful defender/midfielder. 16, already good enough to play first team, versatile, massive potential. Absolute steal.
The last four all join on deadline day after pieces fall into place. The squad is actually good now. I’ve signed three new starters and the squad has depth.
Back into league action on January 11. Augsburg pay us a visit and we roast them 4-0. Baptiste Delhaye picks up three assists. He’s really growing into that wide position. Elsewhere Freiburg lose 7-1 to Dortmund, Koln lose at home and Union Berlin get beat by Leipzig. It’s an ideal round of fixtures that sees us climb to P10, 10 points clear of the relegation play off. Next round of fixtures we beat Mainz 3-1 with an Adriano hattrick (Croce was injured, again). Freiburg win away at Koln and Hoffenheim manage a draw with high flying Dortmund. However, we’ve done so much positive in the middle of the season, we’re in a spot where two more wins and we should stay up. So, I can spend less time obsessing over Union Berlin’s form (it’s bad, they’re now dead last) and focus on looking up at European spots.
Our good form continues with a draw away to Gladbach, with debutante O’Shea Ellis banging one in. 26 points, after 20 games? Living the dream.
We’ve got far enough into the DFB-Pokal this season to get the FANCY DRAW. My first time in a fancy draw.
And here’s the result of said fancy draw; Bielefeld at home. I am happy with this because Bielefeld are currently in the relegation zone in 2. Liga. A semi-final would be a nice little earner for us as a club. The prize money goes into millions at this point.
We lose dramatically 4-3 away at Frankfurt, which is to be expected, before a bounce back 2-1 win away at Bochum, which takes us up to P9 and on 29 points. Essentially safe from relegation. We’re now in a position where we can start eyeballing teams above us and thinking about maybe sneaking into Europe.
We’re only 4 points behind Schalke. I’ve stopped looking at Union Berlin’s results, that’s how good it’s going. Next up, we just about scrape past Freiburg 2-1, but a win is a win. That takes us up to 32 points, above the number I wanted pre-season to stay up. The only time, since the start of the save, a team with 32 points has gone down was Augsburg in 2023 and even then, 33 points was safe. Next game is Dortmund and we lose 4-3 with Moukoko getting a last minute winner. It should speak volumes about the club when I’m disappointed we’ve lost to the second best team in the league.
We progress in the DFB-Pokal despite a shoddy performance from a weakened team against a bad Bielefeld side. Demissie eventually scores in extra time for the 1-0 win. This leads to a semi away against Leipzig. That’ll probably be the end of that cup run but it’s been a decent earner. We play Hertha next and lose 2-1 away, and again I’m disappointed because we played well, and they scored two screamers. In our next game we beat Koln 2-0 with goals from Adriano and Audren. This takes us to 35 points, which is never a relegation number. We’ve achieved safety, albeit not yet mathematically. Next game is Wolfsburg (H) and we clobber them 3-0. Croce with all three. We finish the weekend P8. Next up is Hoffenheim (A) and we eek it 2-1, moving up to P7 in the process. SEVENTH! It’s the Friday game though. We’ve gone from relegation candidates to mixing it up with Gladbach, Schalke and Frankfurt in the space of one season.
O’Shea Ellis goes down with fractured back, which is unfortunate as he’s been brilliant since joining us in central midfield. His season is over.
We have our youth intake, and this guy is the best player. You may notice that he’s fucking garbage. It’s another terrible intake. I don’t think I’ve had one passable player from the intakes so far, let alone a good player. A 1-0 loss to Stuttgart is a bit worrying, as the next fixtures are Leipzig, Bayern, Leipzig, Schalke. Followed by, what should be, an easy win over Union Berlin and a season ending clash with Bayer Leverkusen. I can’t see us picking many points up in that run-in. The board are thrilled with the season though, and look to extend my contract beyond 2032 (we’re in 2031). I’m currently on £9,500. The offer is £15k p/w for 3 years. We’re making bank!
The run in starts badly, as Leipzig blow us away 4-0. I was saying earlier that only Bayern had completely outclassed us. Well, add Leipzig to that list. Schalke, Frankfurt and Gladbach all win the same day. Our chances of Europe are looking slim. We are officially safe from relegation. It’s now a mathematical certainty. We are 14 points ahead of Freiburg with four games left. I’m expecting nothing from the Bayern game and HOLY SHIT…
We beat Bayern! Without Ellis and Croce. We have arrived. It helped that Bayern’s keeper passed the ball to Adriano for the first goal but Milovanovic’s strike was a banger. It’s such a good shot from the teenager, I’m surprised not to see an offer from Bayern for him in my inbox after the game. He’s now not only our youngest ever player but also our youngest scorer. Netting his first ever professional goal at the tender age of 16 years and 161 days.
HOLY SHIT, WE DID IT AGAIN! Ignore Leipzig’s xG for a moment and what a win this is! I must admit, when they came back from 3-0 down to square it up on 71’, I was fully expecting to lose but the lads did great. We’re in the bloody cup final! Croce’s winner was especially awesome as he couldn’t get away on a break but he spotted the keeper off his line and lobbed him. Schalke beat Hamburg 3-0 in the other semi, so it’s a cup final against Schalke. The magic doesn’t continue against Schalke in the league as we lose 3-1. Although they do the same as Bayern and gift us a goal for 1-0. The second Schalke goal is insane as the ref waves off THREE penalty shouts, all looked legitimate, and then Wiesner gives the ball away in the six-yard box. Madness. The same game day, Hoffenheim are relegated. Terrible season from Hoffenheim, but there’s no way this should have happened. If I had those players, I’d get into Europe. Shocking. I don’t think the players have a relegation release clause because that team was expected to finish top half.
In our penultimate game we face Union Berlin and if Union don’t win, they’re relegated. We win 5-1. Bye Union! Enjoy 2. Liga. The same day Leipzig draw 1-1 with Bayern and hand the title to Bayer Leverkusen, who win back-to-back titles. We are going to finish P8. Final day we get a 2-2 draw at the champions and are arguably the better team.
Fifty-four million English pounds sterling for finishing in eighth. What a league. It’s been a wild season in the Premier League too, with Newcastle winning the league, Aston Villa being relegated and Everton just barely staying up on goal difference. Nottingham Forest finished P7, above Chelsea.
With the season extended by a week, O’Shea Ellis makes a surprise return in the DFB-Pokal final. We can, with a win, secure European football next season. An unlikely occurrence last summer. It’s a tetchy final with lots of yellow cards and midfield scrapping. I’m glad O’Shea Ellis is back in there. It’s his kind of game. Jhonatan Ospina gives Schalke a lead early in the second half by dinking it over Joao Roberto. We reply 13 minutes later with a back post header from WARRIOR O’Shea Ellis. His fitness test said he could only play 45 minutes. His goal comes on 64’. The game goes to extra time and penalties. Croce, Allentoft, Raebiger and Audren all make themselves heroes. Leon Mana hits his penalty against the crossbar and what WARRIOR steps up to take pen #5? You guessed it, limited to 45 minutes but played 120, O’Shea Ellis. Paderborn legend. He strokes home the penalty and the fans go wild. In the moment, I managed to not screenshot said victory and when you go into highlights afterwards it doesn’t show it, or even Ellis’ penalty. Very weird. Anyhow, DFB-Pokal winners; SC Paderborn 07.
More good news; our wage budget is now £525k, up from £380k this season. The transfer kitty has £26M in it. I need three players, probably. A centre back, because Allentoft was on loan. A striker, because Croce was on loan. Finally, a creative midfielder as Raebiger struggled a little and Delhaye is on loan. I’ll bring you that transfer window next time.
Just a reminder before we go that P8 is the highest ever finish for Paderborn, ever. They’ve only had one season in their history where they stayed up in the Bundesliga. For those wondering about Sassuolo, as I nearly went there, the guy who took the job finished P7 and got sacked. Bullet dodged? Also, we’re in a better European competition than them next season. To end the season, I ask for better training facilities and a stadium expansion. We get both.
NEXT: Europa League! Pushing up the Bundesliga! Transfers! Moneyball!