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Furchtlos und Treu

  1. Furchtlos und Treu

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    At the end of last season VFB Stuttgart, one of the biggest football clubs in Germany, were relegated to the 2. Bundesliga. It wasn't totally unexpected though as it had been on the cards for quite some time as they only narrowly managed to avoid relegation in the two seasons prior.

    The club who managed to win the Bundesliga exactly ten years ago, for the fifth time in their history, are now condemned to play in the second tier of the German football pyramid.

    The goal is clear, getting back to the Bundesliga as quickly as possible. This is where I come in, I will be taking over as manager of die Schwaben and I will attempt to bring them back where they belong, in the top of German football.



    For the first season I have disabled the transfer budgets and I will not be bringing in any new players or staff until atleast the winter transfer window.


    Will you join me in my journey to bring glory back to Stuttgart?


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    The Club

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    As you can see our facilities are simply excellent. Both our training and youth setup will be instrumental in getting back to the top.

    Over the years Stuttgart has been known for producing talented footballers like Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Timo Werner to name a few. Unfortunately the club has never managed to retain these talented youngsters, while I realize that it won't always be in my hands, I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that this won't happen again.



    The Stadium
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    Our stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Arena is a very impressive one. The stadium was built quite some time ago, in 1933 but has undergone several renovations and expensions over the years, the last one being in 2011.

    The current stadium offers place to 60.449 people of which 49.224 places are seated.


    The Mercedes-Benz Arena:
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    The Squad
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    Overal our squad is a pretty strong one, which honestly is to be expected since we are expecting to finish top of the league. There is a nice balance between potential and experience with an average age of 25.

    I do have some negatives though; while the number of defenders is rather great, none of the center backs are very impressive, Pavard however has quite the potential so there is atleast that.

    I also feel that we are somewhat lacking in the striker area, we only have 3 main strikers and one of them Ginczek is currently injured and it will be a few weeks before he'll get back.

    Lets take a closer look at some of our key players for the season:

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    Our nr 1 goalkeeper for this season is going to be Mitchell Langerak. You might have heard of him before given that he was the backup keeper of Klopp during the glory years of Dortmund. Last season he joined Stuttgart however after not being able to secura regular starting spot for himself in Dortmund.

    Last year however he was also the backup choice for Stuttgart behind Przemyslaw Tyton, after he left however following the relegation Langerak will finally get a chance to prove his worth.


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    As we move up one line we take a closer look at our defence, while our fullbacks are pretty decent our central defenders are somewhat lacking. Pavard however has quite some potential.

    Not only is his hair style pretty similar to that of Mats Hummels, his overal skill set also reminds me somewhat of the ball playing defender of Bayern Munich. I am very keen to see what this talented youngster can bring to our team with his playmaking abilities. (obviously I am also counting on a solid defensive performance)


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    Next up we have a man whose name is synonymous with VFB Stuttgart, Christian Gentner. Having been at the club since 1999 (he did have a 3 year lone spell at Wolfsburg) Gentner has played an impressive number of matches for the club. The current captain has stayed loyal to the club even after relegation and he will be one of the leading members in bringing the club back to the Bundesliga.

    I am planning one playing in a 4-4-2/4-2-4 system so the central midfielders will be a key part in determining if we are going to be succesful or if we'll end up a failure.


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    Next up Kevin Grosskreutz. A man integral to the success of Klopps Dortmund he now finds himself in completely unfamiliar grounds. After a controversial loan spell to Galatasaray (during which he failed to make even a single appearance) he now finds himself back in Germany and with a new challange.

    Sadly his debut is going to have to wait a few months as he is out with a torn hamstring.


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    Finally we have target man Simon Terodde. A real 2. Bundesliga striker, he will be key in bringing us back to the Bundesliga and given his impressive record in the second tier of german football I am confident that he can.


    Now that we have taken a look at our first team players I also wanted to highlight 3 talents whom will no doubt be useful for us this season;
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    (a note to mention; Baumgartl will be out with a sports hernia for the next 7 to 10 weeks).


    Next up; Pre-Season





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    Pre Season Review
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    During our pre season we played a total of 7 fixtures. We managed to win 4, drew 2 and lost 1.

    The start was excellent as we won our first 3 matches with relative ease. During the match against Werder Bremen I played around with a different tactic system which resulted in an incredibly poor first half from us as Bremen managed to score 3 goals. During half time I switched back to my regular system and we managed to get 2 back, while it is never nice to lose I did take a lot from that game so in that regard it was pleasing.

    Next up we drew 2 games in matches that we completely dominated before finishing of with a comfortable win against Oberliga side SSV Reutlingen 05.

    Overal I am fairly positive going into our first competetive month. While it may not seem as impressive on paper our performances (except for the first half against Bremen) have been very encouraging.


    A Look Ahead
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    Our first month will immediately be a big one as we play a total of 6 fixtures. Five games in the 2.Bundesliga and one match in the DFB-Pokal.

    An interesting thing to note is that we start the season of against fierce rivals Karlsruher SC in the Baden-Württemberg-Derby. A win against our rivals would certainly be an excellent way to kick off the new season.


    Expectations

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    With the start of the new season just around the corner the board have reminded me of my task for the upcoming campaign.

    In the 2. Bundesliga they expect me to gain promotion back into the first tier of the German football pyramid by winning the 2. Bundesliga, a tough task but one that our squad is definitely up for.

    In the DFB-Pokal our expectations are significantly smaller as we are only expected to make it into the third round. No complaints here either, personally I am hoping that with a bit of luck we can go on even further but no need to get carried away.


    As stated I have disabled the first transfer budgets so I have no real money to spend, I do however have quite a healthy wage budget at my disposal which I can use to keep some of our key players at the club.
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    August

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    Our season started of with a bang as we played rivals Karlshurer SC in the Baden-Württemberg-Derby. Our fans expected a win and the players were up for the challenge.

    We managed to secure an early lead as Tobias Werner opened the scoring for us in the 5th minute, Takuma Asano, whom is on loan from Arsenal managed to make it 2 in the 40th minute giving us a comfortable lead.

    For the rest of the match we never really looked in trouble, Karlshurer had more possession but they didn't really do anything with the ball. In the 89th minute we did get a red card as Benjamin Pavard got send of after receiving his second yellow but by then the match was already won.





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    Then came Eintracht Braunschweig, a club who have been pretty solid over the last couple of years even making it to the Bundesliga (though they did get relegated immediately).

    I was expecting a tough game and the beginning of the game proved me right as Braunschweig took the lead in the lead in the 10th minute through Julius Biada. We didn't give up however and managed to create a number of chances resulting in us getting even right before half time as Terodde got his first competetive goal for us.

    In the second half we were the much better team and managed to prove this by getting 2 more goals. Another solid performance from us.




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    2 wins in a row, could a 3rd one follow? Sadly no.

    This game was a really hard fought one and in the end both teams deserved to get something from it, sadly for us Furth managed to take the spoils home. A key moment in this match for me personally was that Simon Terodde got injured after only 20 minutes.

    Without any real strikers as substitutions I brought on Werner but he never really impressed. As you can see from the statistics we did create the chances but without someone to finish them off you aren't going to win and so we didn't.

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    Next up came our game in the first round of the DFB-Pokal against Regionalliga side FC Astoria Walldorf, surely an easy win was on the cards?

    Sadly no, we made it rather difficult for ourselves as we again didn't finish off the chances that we created. In fact it looked like we were going to extra time when Asano gave us our deserved win in the 92nd minute of the match. Talk about cutting things close.

    During the match another one of our players got injured however as Mane was the casualty of a hard tackle and is now set on the sidelines for the next 6-7 weeks.
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    With this win we now progress into the second round of the DFB-Pokal, our opponents have also been drawn:
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    We'll play FC St.Pauli at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, a win is a must as the board wants me to get into the third round at the minimum.





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    Next up we faced FC Erzgebirge Aue, could we put the loss against Furth behind us to return to our winning ways?

    Yes we could and in a very convincing fashion. Unlike our previous game we managed to convert our chances into goals resulting in us beating Aue 4-1. Without any real strikers I opted to use Berkay Özcan, normally an attacking midfielder, as the deep lying forward connecting our midfield with our attack and it turned out to be a very good call as he had a very impressive game.





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    Next up came our match against 1.FC Union Berlin.

    Following the Aue game we went into this game with high spirits, maybe too high as we didn't play up to our usual standard. After Union took the lead after roughly half an hour played I was hoping that we could bounce back but it took us quite some time.

    Who other then Özcan managed to bring us back into the game in the 65th minute. Following this goal we were the better team and in the 88th minute we got our reward as Sunjic managed to score a powerful header as a result of a corner.

    Not the best game that we played but a win is a win.



    August Review
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    Overal not a bad month for us. We managed to win 5 of the six games that we played with the highlight being an impressive away victory against Aue.

    We also managed to progress into the next round of the DFB Pokal so that is also pleasing.


    This is how the table looks after 5 games played;
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    That's right, top of the league, not that it means anything at this stage but our start has been encouraging.



    A Look Ahead: September

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    Next month we'll play a total of 4 games. Both Bochum and Kaiserslautern have had mediocre starts to their campaigns and will be looking to bounce back. Dresden meanwhile will also provide a good challenge...

    Can we keep up our current form?

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    September

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    We started off the month with a game against FC Würzburger Kickers. On paper this should be an easy win for us in reality it was much harder then I would have liked.

    Make no mistake, we were the dominant team despite having less possession. We creating a good amount of chances (19) of which 8 were on target, it was just our finishing that let us down. In the end it was again Özcan who managed to come through for us to secure us our deserved win.





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    Then came Dynamo Dresden. Playing away against Dresden was always going to be difficult, I knew that, but our performance was simply pathetic.

    For most of our matches this season we have had less possession then our opponents but managed to create almost double the amount of chances resulting in us scoring quite a few goals. In this game we were again the underlying team possession wise but unlike other games we simply didn't create the chances.

    Right before half time, literally the 45th minute, we had a chance to equalise as we got a penalty. Unfortunately Özcan missed.

    Up until that point we didn't deserve anything but one has to wonder what a goal for us would have meant for the rest of the match... still we didn't score and so we lost deservedly to a very strong Dresden side.

    In this game, our striker Terodde got injured again, (deja vu much?) and he'll be out for a few weeks...

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    Right before the game against Dresden one of our central backs, Kaminski got injured
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    Rather unfortunate given that I had just implemented a tactic with 3 at the back.

    As a result Baumgartl took his place. The reason for my change of tactics was mostly the game against Dresden but the previous games against Union and Wurzburg also played a part. I felt that we weren't as dominant and something definitely had to change.

    In this game it definitely looked like our change worked as we played a wonderful game of football, beating a mediocre Kaiserslautern side rather comfortably. It could just be a fluke since Kaiserslautern have been disappointing so far this season but it could also be the start of something good...






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    Was the game against Kaiserslautern a fluke or not? We'd find out against Bochum in our next match.

    We started the game in brilliant fashion as we managed to score 2 goals within the first 22 minutes. Both goals were the result of a set piece but it was pleasing to see nonetheless.

    Sadly then it all went wrong as Insua got himself a red card 43 minutes in the game resulting in us being a man down for an entire half, could we hold on?

    Yes, we could. We defended with 5 at the back for almost an entire half but didn't give away anything resulting in us getting a hard fought 2-0 win.






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    In last months update I said that we were going to play 4 games in september, somehow I managed to overlook the game against Bielefeld so my apologies.

    Following our confident performances against teams like Kaiserslautern and Bochum I felt that we should certainly be able to get a good result against a team like Bielefeld.

    As you can see from the match report I seriously underestimated them. Bielefeld started the game much better then us and took a deserved lead in the 24th minute. We had real difficulty finding a way through and it took a superb free kick from Maxim to get us level.

    In the second half the game continued to be very close with neither team managing to make the game theirs resulting in a disappointing 1-1 draw.


    September Review


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    5 games played, 3 won, 1 drawn and 1 loss. Overal I'd call it a pretty disapointing month. The game against Wurzburg was much more difficult then I would have liked, the loss against Dresden was simply pathetic from our side. Then came 2 really strong games against Kaiserslautern and Bochum before getting a mediocre point from our game against Bielefeld.

    If we want to be champions we have to do better no doubt about it.


    Here is the table with September over:
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    As you can see we are still in the top 3, only 1 point behind Heidenheim and Greuther Furth.



    A Look Ahead: October


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    October will see us play a total of 4 games (for real this time )

    2 of those games are against St. Pauli, one in the 2. Bundesliga and one in the DFB Pokal.

    We'll also play against 1.FC Nurnberg and 1860 Munich.

    Can we give a more confident performance next month, if we want to win the league we'll certainly have to.





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