The Journeyman | BVB: Part 1 – Braganca Reunion

After 14 years of life in the virtual Football Manger world, English manager Robí Sebastian Jesús di Lathamé is in danger of becoming known as the journeyman that this save is named. Six years with Sporting Lisbon were followed by four in Valencia then two in Cagliari, where he was sacked in the spring of 2033.

And, after a few months focusing on managing England in the Nations League, we took advantage of a mini manager merry-go-round to take the reigns at Borussia Dortmund. And, pleasingly, it also takes me to my favourite club in Germany having previously done so in Portugal and Spain.

If you’re not overly au fait with Dortmund, then the club goes by the nickname of BVB (pronounced bay-fow-bay), which is short for Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund – and Ballspielverein roughly translates into “ball game club.” BVB have a rich history with 12 Bundesliga titles, 7 German Cups (DFB-Pokal), 1 Champions League title back in 1997 and a Cup Winners’ Cup win in 1966.

One-third of those title wins have come during the time period of this save, including back-to-back titles in 2029 and 2030. They have fallen off a little in the 3 years since, finishing 5th the season after their most recent title win then 4th. But they did climb back up to 3rd in the most recent campaign so we will be back in the Champions League.

Dortmund of 2033

Unsurprisingly, the Dortmund squad that we take charge of in 2033/34 does not even slightly resemble the one of 2019/20. So without further ado, let’s meet the squad we inherited.

Dortmund’s star man is undoubtedly Italian right-winger Salvatore Palumbo, who joined from Liverpool the previous summer having started his career at Pescara in 2025.

Another key player is one I’m very much aware of in Greek striker Carl Berglund. He was previously with Villarreal and scored plenty of goals against me when I was Valencia boss. He scored 22 goals in 30 league games last season, with an average rating of 7.61.

Looking to the defence, the main man is 22-year-old Belgian centre-back Adolphe Gérard. He arrived two seasons ago, having come through the ranks at Genk, and I think he’s going to be a great player for us.

Other players worth keeping an eye out for are Turkish midfielder Elsin Karabulut, versatile Brazilian defender George, and 24-year-old French right-back Justin dos Santos, who strangely came through the ranks at Dortmund aged 22 and still hasn’t played a game for them. There’s also still a real player in the squad in captain and Goncalo Ramos, who joined the club from Benfica way back in 2020/21.

Summer signings

I raised some funds by selling off a few of the club’s ageing, not good enough squad filler.

I identified the need for a backup striker, a left-back and a creative midfielder. And my scouts immediately recommended a familiar face in my former Sporting captain Daniel Braganca – and probably my favourite player in this entire save. Of course, the now 34-year-old midfielder doesn’t match my youthful transfer policy nor that of Dortmund, but I know his qualities all too well and he’s still fantastic. We bid £7.75 million, which could become around £15 million, Barcelona accepted, and a £200k-a-week deal made him our highest-paid player. And I immediately installed him as the new captain, demoting Ramos to vice-captain.

We also bolstered the squad with the signings of 19-year-old Portuguese defender José Brás for a potential £30 million, attacking midfielder Leonardo Quintiliano for £18.5 million, and two Argentinian bargains in striker Ricardo Martínez for £3 million and midfielder Matías Sarue for £4.5 million.

And we bolstered the squad with the loan signings of two Liverpool players in brilliantly named striker Juan Carlos Juan – who I’ve admired from a far for years on this save – and right-winger Gauthier Mertens, as well as Man United midfielder Matteo Cristofari, who we had at Cagliari last season.

And with all of that done and dusted, this is how I’m thinking of lining the team up to begin with.

A perfect start

Life in Dortmund got off to the perfect start as we thumped Wegberg-Beeck 9-0 away in the DFB-Pokal first round. Braganca reminded us of how good he is with two goals and two assists while Palumbo scored a perfect hat-trick and Berglund scored a brace.

Bundesliga begins

My first league match in Germany saw us take on VFL Wolfsburg at home. A Berglund goal put is ahead and, despite dominating we held on for a 1-0 victory.

Another close game followed as we went behind early at Hamburg but stormed back with quickfire goals by Braganca and Berglund again. And we were a bit more clinical at home to Bochum as centre-back Gérard teed up Ramos’ opener then scored the second in a 2-0 win.

We returned from an international break with a host of injuries before facing a big game away to Leverkusen, in which winger Martyn Talbot and Mertens made their debuts. We took the lead early through that man Gérard again but they came back with a brace from midfielder Salim Maouche. We got level with a Mertens debut goal but they nicked a late winner through striker Romario Malafaia.

But we bounced back with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Borussia Monchengladbach thanks to a Ramos penalty and Japanese left-winger Hitoshi Nakajima’s first of the season. Then another solid performance saw us win 3-1 at Heidenheim, in which Ramos scored to become Dortmund’s all-time record league goalscorer with 126 goals for the club.

That took us into a clash with Hertha BSC, who’d won all six of their opening Bundesliga games. But we brought them crashing down to earth with a superb 3-0 win led by the fantastic Juan, who scored twice then laid on the third for Palumbo.

And an even better performance saw us go to Leipzig – who were now led by Erling Haaland – and thump them 4-1. Nakajima bagged a brace, Palumbo scored again and centre-back Jhon Mina scored a long-range screamer.

That sent us into the Revier Derby at home to Schalke, which turned out to be a feisty affair. Ramos put us ahead from the penalty spot, they then missed a penalty. They should have had a man sent off as Nakajima was taken out clean through on goal, only for Palumbo to be sent off just after the break for a far lesser offence. However, they also had a man sent off 17 minutes later and Berglund came off the bench to seal a 2-0 win.

That strong run of form teed up my first Der Klassiker Derby at Bayern Munich, which also turned out to be my 700th match as a manager. And we somehow saw off an absolute battering of 29 shots to 5 to seal a 0-0 draw that kept us just one point behind Bayern at the top of the league after 10 matches.

Back in the Champions League

My first venture into the Champions League saw us handed a tough draw alongside Man United, AC Milan and CSKA Moscow. We also had an issue with squad registration due to a massive lack of players trained at the club.

But the easiest game came first as we breezed past CSKA 3-0, then we went to Milan and earned a point in a 3-3 thriller. However, we unsurprisingly lost away and at home to a very strong Man United, albeit only narrowly.

Join us next time as we push on into our first season with Borussia Dortmund!

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