FM15 Dortmund: Unbeaten season — that’s a wrap

It’s been a while since my last post. That’s partly behind having a break from the game and partly because when I have been playing, it’s been slightly more in-depth than merely ploughing through games. In the last post, I detailed how we’d attempt to achieve a feat I had never before achieved on any Football Manager: the unbeaten league season.

Eventually we got there. It took two seasons after my last article rather than one, and it took a slightly different tactical approach. Whilst the 4-3-1-2 worked excellently well, and I would massively recommend it to mid-table teams looking to overachieve, it was a flat 4-4-2 that did the business. The 4-3-1-2 would attempt to overload the centre of the pitch, but often teams would play a very flat back four against me where the full-backs didn’t attack at all. As well as this they’d have a defensive midfielder and sometimes even defensive wingers too. All in all, they’d always have at least ten men behind the ball.

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FM15 Dortmund: The Unbeaten Season: The Beginning

In my last update, I highlighted the difficulty I’ve had in completing an unbeaten season on FM. Since then, pre-season has gone well and we’ve made two new additions to the squad.

As the previous update was in January, we were still able to make an addition in that window.

Given our moderately depleted striker stocks (only Robert Wechner and Paulao were capable of leading the line), we spent £27m on behemoth Kemal Guler.

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FM15: The Unbeaten Season with Dortmund: Squad Overview & Preparation

Those of you who have followed my Twitter and the blog long enough will know that I’ve achieved a decent amount on Football Manager over the years. You’ll also know I’ve always struggled to achieve one thing: an unbeaten season. And this pisses me off pretty bad.

Since the last blog post, the Dortmund save has pushed on three and a half more seasons. In that time we’ve won literally everything possible; every trophy we’ve competed in, we’ve won at some point in that period. But the thing that still eludes us is the unbeaten league season. At time of writing, we’re in the 2022/23 winter break and we’ve got 39 points from 14 league games, and we’re absolutely dominating all comers. But, yeah, you guessed it, 1 loss.

Despite scoring 41 in that time (3 per game) and conceding only 4 (0.3 per game), we still managed to lose a game. Bayern are in second place, and having played three more games than us, they’re still 8 points behind already. Unless a minor miracle happens, we’ve almost already sown up the league.

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FM15: Dortmund 18/19: Domestic domination

In all my years of playing Football Manager, I’ve never achieved a completely unbeaten league season. Until mid-March, we remained unbeaten in all competitions and I was getting pretty excited at our chance. Then came a loss against Conte’s Bayern (who we’d battered 6-0 and 4-1 earlier in the season). We went on to win the league very comfortably, as well as adding the DFB-Pokal to the trophy cabinet.

With an average of +2 Goal Difference *per match*, it’s fair to say we destroyed the German league.

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FM15: 17/18 Dortmund: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

The new season promised to make up for the disappointments of the year before. We made very little impact domestically or on the continent, and despite finding ourselves in the Europa League, I was determined to go far.

Transfer dealings were performed largely based on my attribute & role rating system I mentioned in my previous posts. Five of the signings were made for the first team, with four having a strong recommendation from the system; whilst the other was a keeper (Timo Horn). I’m not quite sure why I didn’t set up the system to cater for goalkeepers, but it doesn’t so there we go. Something to add for future.

Selling a few key first teamers gave us a fairly large transfer chest. One of our top performers in 16/17 was Douglas Costa, but a move to Manchester City turned his head, and the club was more than happy with the £23m fee. Max Kruse (£14m), Walter (£8.5m), Milos Jojic (£9m), Jonas Hoffman (£5m) and Erik Durm (£9.5m) were also shipped out after the system insisted they were all pretty rubbish. Leo was then sold for £6m after the opportunity to sign the high potential Lucas Boye arrived, and Kevin Grosskreutz was going to stay until a £15.25m offer arrived from Leverkusen; too good to ignore for a 29 year old.

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FM15: 16/17 proving a transition season at Dortmund

Despite the sale of Reus to Bayern, we didn’t make too many signings in the Summer. Klopp had already signed Walter from Dortmund, so the strikeforce was almost complete. The midfield had a variety of options, and despite lacking quality in defense, we had plenty of depth.

Aubameyang (£7.75m) and Blaszczkowski (£4m) found new homes at Hoffenheim and Sevilla respectively. Erik Durm was also loaned out in order to make room for new signing, ex-Southampton left-back Alex Telles.

For the first team we were also able to sign Youri Tielemans. Although the Belgian spent the first half of the season on the sidelines with various different injuries, he put in a few promising performances near the end of the campaign. Gaston Gil Romero was also signed for a very reasonable £4.9m, concluded mainly due to the deal agreed to loan him back to Estudiantes until December 31.

To complete the frontline we were also able to grab a bargain on deadline day; Leo Baptistao of Atleti coming in for a fee of £2.6m.

All of this gave me a best XI as follows, as well as the rating given to them in that role by the system I talked about in my last article (excludes out-on-loan players). Note that the strongest XI is the XI selected by myself, not by the system. I’ve merely given them a rating for comparison purposes.

GK (GK-D): Romain Weidenfeller (-)
RB (FB-A): Kevin Großkreutz (7.47)
CB (CD-D): Sokratis Papastathopoulos (7.52)
CB (CD-D): Neven Subotic (7.56)
LB (CWB-A): Alex Telles (7.18)
DM (BWM-D): Sven Bender (8.21)
DM (DLP-S): Ilkay Gundogan (7.89)
RM (W-A): Douglas Costa (7.32)
LM (WP-A): Shinji Kagawa (7.53)
ST (CF-S): Walter (7.33)
ST (AF-A): Ciro Immobile (7.44)

Average Rating: 7.55.

The good thing about recording all their attributes at the beginning of the season is that if I change any of the formulas, then I can also backdate it and still compare to the first XI I had.

The reason the formula is likely to change is partially due to reasons Shrewnaldo outlined in a previous comment: the attributes the game recommends for each role are not necessarily the ones we’re looking for.

Eventually I got around to the season itself; adopting a plug-and-play approach as I always do in the first year. With limited tactical changes, and nonsensical rotation, we eventually finished 5th. Avoiding Champions League is very annoying as a number of our early transfer targets aren’t overly keen.

Much like the nature of my first season, this article is pretty dull and features no depth. The sequel should be a bit more interesting.

FM15: Selling our best player to our main rivals

.. okay, not quite.

Following a successful 18 months at Southampton, I suggested that if a decent offer came in for me to move elsewhere, I’d accept it. Well Joachim Loew had just won the EUROs with Germany, and felt enough was enough, resigning following his second successive major tournament win. The man to replace him: Jurgen Klopp.

When Dortmund come calling, you don’t say no. I don’t usually like managing an already large club on FM, but it’s slightly different when you don’t just drop yourself in there at the start. Maybe that’s just me.

First order of business was to put Marco Reus on the transfer market. And when the £41.5m bid came in from Bayern Munich, to accept it. There’s method to the madness. Hear me out.

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