After 17 seasons of life in-game on Football Manager 2020, I’d just wrapped up my 11th league title and my third in three years in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.
However, the ongoing quest to win the Champions League was still eluding me, having fallen at the Champions League stage at just the second time of reaching it in 2035/36. In this post, we’ll take a look back at the season just gone and have a little think about next steps in this save.
Dortmund key performers
The main man again this season was striker Cataldo Strambelli, who racked up 33 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions. 24 of those came in the league, from 34 appearances – which doesn’t quite match his tally of 31 in 31 the previous campaign. He also happens to be our oldest player at just 26!
Closely competing with him was his fellow Italian international Jajá, who scored 20 goals and got 12 assists from 37 games at an average rating of 7.44.
That pair were away ahead of next top scorer midfielder Matías Sarue, who scored eight goals. He was followed by six-goal left-winger Hitoshi Nakajima – was our top creative force with 15 assists – then Jocemar Campestrini and Joao Ribeiro with five each. Ribeiro has been a little bit of a disappointment with seven assists to add to that, but an average rating of just 6.90.
Jajá won the fans’ player of the season with 55% of the vote, followed by Strambelli (19%) and Nakajima (15%), and, at 24, the young player of the season. Interestingly, considering our overall lack of passing expertise in the league this season, youngster Bjarne Heyer had the best pass completion at the club with 90%.
Jajá also won the German Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, while nine of our players made the Team of the Year and all bar goalkeeper Dawid Pawlowski made the Players’ Team of the Year, which was quite harsh on him.
Bundesliga team stats
Our tally of 72 goals was the most in Bundesliga, two more than Bayern, and we created the second most chances with 111. We also had the best defence with 23 conceded, which was five less than Leverkusen – but isn’t that great considering we’d only conceded five after 15 games.
We conceded zero goals from direct free-kicks, just one from corners and two penalties, but five from indirect free-kicks.
There were some surprising stats. We lagged way behind on possession with just 48% throughout the season and we won the fifth most headers in the league. We also had only the 11th best pass completion ratio with just 82%, well behind Leverkusen’s 89%, and completed the 14th most passes (or the fifth fewest).
Bundesliga player stats
Strambelli scored the most goals in Bundesliga with his 24 four ahead of Leverkusen striker Jean-Jacques Wamba. His 162 shots was 31 more than any other player and he also had the most shots on target of 93.
While Jajá racked up the highest rating in the league of 7.45 and six player of the match awards from just 26 appearances due to injuries.
Goalkeeper Dawid Pawlowski kept a league-high 19 clean sheets in 29 appearances, conceding just 13. But other than that, there wasn’t a huge amount else to shout about from an individual point of view.
A look around Europe
Chelsea defended the Premier League with 90 points, only winning it on goal difference from Man United. While Inter stopped Juventus’ run of three successive titles.
Our defeaters Liverpool won the Champions League with a 3-2 extra-time win over Atletico Madrid, with my former Cagliari midfielder Jordan Knowles scoring the 116th minute winner.
Save next steps
Earlier in the save, before coming to Dortmund, my main goal was to take teams that haven’t won their league in ages and rebuild them. So with next steps in mind, there are a few options I’m eyeing up.
The first is Manchester United, who lost the Premier League on goal difference to Chelsea, which ensured they still haven’t won the title since 2013 (23 years). While their city rivals Manchester City haven’t won the Premier League in 11 years. The other league on my list to win is Serie A, which has been dominated by Juve and Inter since 2012 other than AC Milan lifting one title in 2027.
So if any opportunities come up there, then I’ll well and truly pursue them. But for now, I think I’m going to stick with Dortmund with the aim to go again in the Champions League – and hope for a slightly easier draw for once!