Full Season Report - Season 10 [2025/6]
· Beautiful Berlin: We began our season with a 1-0 Supercup win over Hertha BSC in their Olympiastadion and finished it in the same venue as we finally secured the Champions League title with a 1-0 win over Real Madrid. JJJ
· Draw Specialists: We draw far too many games as FC Bayern, in relentless fashion, take the Bundesliga title away from us; a win by 16 points as emphatic as it was a brutal reminder of what can happen if you take your eye off your bread and butter.
· Quarter Rheinal: A Rhein Derby in the Quarter Final of the DFB Pokal Cup saw us bow out, somewhat limply, against rivals 1.FC Köln.
· More departures as I look to get maximum value for the club by moving on players at their transfer peaks (Iheanacho, Mbappé, Meré) and bring in younger talent with reasonable outlays, incentivised for the future, but not breaking the bank.
· However, I still felt I needed to improve the squad and [after a £188m sponsorship deal came in] I was able to complete transactions on three key targets (this after securing the fourth, Eduard Stets'kiv, last season); Rubén Simón (Spanish GK), Kim Sung-Ryong (South Korean DC) and Michael Simons (Dutch LB) the men brought in.
· On the surprise transfer front I moved quickly to secure the free transfer of German utility defender, Jannes Horn, after he failed to agree a new deal with Dortmund. A risk free acquisition with sell on value from my perspective. Also, when Arsenal made it public they were willing to sell Marcus Rashford for c.£25m – this was another deal too good to turn down especially with Iheanacho leaving.
· I also continued to work and complete/queue up future transfers of young prospects to develop (or at least sell on for profit) and hopefully you’ll see some of these bear fruit in the future. More than a few gambles in there but if you’re not in it, you can’t win it – am I right? J
· Ahead of next season I also agreed a mega deal, one of five names on my must have wish-list [two of the others are Schulz (Germany – LB/LM) and Leonard (Germany – DMC/DC) at Dortmund, the third Zurimendi (Spain – SC) at Stuttgart and the fourth Horikawa (German - AMC) at FC Bayern] for Dortmund’s Dutch international striker, Tarik Fellah. Fellah has scored 66 goals in 130 games for Dortmund and offers pace, power and aerial ability; he’ll be 26 years of age by the time he starts with us. I’ll be paying £53m (across 48 months) rising to £90m for the striker.
Second XI, Reserves & Marinating Youth Prospects
· In defence, I rotated new GK, Rubén Simón, with experienced Keeps, Predrag Rajkovic. Full backs remained the (occasionally inconsistent) Christian Artmann and Jairo Riedewald whilst Felix Uduokhai dropped out at LCB with Andrey Fedorov now having acclimatised, more often than not, to partner Fatawu Tetteh at Centre Back.
· In midfield, the departure of Kylian Mbappé meant Ignacio Tevez, naturally, replaced him at LM. Similarly, the quality shown by Rodrigo Arroyo in his first season meant it was right for Nadiem Amiri to step down at RM (and Vice-Captain which is also now held by Arroyo). First choice DMC and MC remained as Walace and Patrick Güllenbeck, respectively.
· Kai Havertz, my Captain, remained the first choice AMC in attack and I opted to replace the outgoing goal threat of Kelechi Iheanacho with a switch to Poacher for Abdel Diouri; with Diouri suffering a 3-4 month injury during the season it did mean significant minutes for Marcus Rashford in that position.
· 20 goals in 2. Fußball-Bundesliga from Sebastian Dreßel is promising but the question will be can he push on and provide a comparable performance at Bundesliga level?
· Eduard Stets'kiv, Bobby-Joe Harrington-Gale, Billy MacDonald, Edward Mohammed, Kai Hirsch and the aforementioned Dreßel are all expected to meet up for pre-season training ahead of Season 11 with Stets’kiv and possibly Harrington-Gale expected to be given places in the 2nd XI.
DFL Supercup 2025/6
· We started off the season with a textbook 0-1 win over Hertha BSC in the DFL Supercup; Timo Werner with the strike from an assisting pass from the excellent Patrick Güllenbeck. Not much in it but we had the quality and therefore – early silverware. J
Timo Werner wins the Supercup: -
DFB-Pokal Cup 2025/6
· Evisceration for SV Alemannia Haibach in the (ritual) pre-season mauling of lower league opposition. Here the team showed both ruthlessness and abandon in scoring eight (8) and slackness in allowing the minnows to score one (1). Hat-tricks a piece for Havertz and Werner; four (4) assists for Nadiem Amiri.
· SC Freiburg, away, in the second round. Freiburg solid in mid-table and making a good fist of it before a lovely half-volley from Ignacio Tevez gave us the lead in the 67th minute. That proved enough for the lads to progress. No real scares.
· TSV 1860 München, away, in the third. Two of my players out on loan to 1860 and starting - Eduard Stets'kiv and Bobby-Joe Harrington-Gale. Stets’kiv’s sending off for two yellows proved costly as Marcus Rashford scored the only goal in the 58th minute. I’d like a home tie in the next round please.
· A Rhein Derby in the Quarter Finals and this proved to be our undoing; 1.FC Köln found an extra desire for a competition where they could realistically have a long run in. We were never able to assert any real quality on the play and committed far too many fouls in a fragmented affair which ended 2-0 to the hosts and saw us bow out.
Memorable Goals: -
· A strong start to the season was followed by a period of malaise resulting from the downtown in morale after losing away to Celtic in the Champions League. We rallied at the close and will be looking to take that into the second half; we trail Bayern Munich by five points after a return of 11 wins, 5 draws and the 1 loss [albeit to FC Bayern at home].
o On the plus side – only the one loss and we have a four (4) point lead over Schalke in third, seven (7) over a resurgent Hoffenheim in fourth.
o On the negative side – two or three of those draws should have been converted to wins. We need to become more ruthless in both scoring chances in tight games and grinding out wins by the single goal. Hopefully the return to fitness of Abdel Diouri will be the catalyst for improvement.
· We started the second half of the season well with three straight wins; however, a combination of needing to rotate for our Champions League exploits and FC Bayern being in a ruthless frame of mind (and play) meant that too many draws reduced if not negated any pressure we occasionally had the opportunity to build until the team from Munich pulled away to secure their first title since Season 2.
o This was our worst points total in this first decade of Football Management with Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
o 8 wins, 6 draws and 3 defeats [30 points] added to the 38 points from the first half. Even if we had equalled that it would not have been enough to eclipse The Bavarians. We applaud them and look forward to tearing the title out of their grasp next year…
Memorable Goals: -
Patrick Güllenbeck’s goal against Freibrug was voted Goal of the Season at the End of Season Awards: -
Champions League 2025/6
· Our Champions League group fixtures began with a 0-0 draw with Inter Milan at home. Not great but okay, we won the next two – away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv and home to Celtic. 7 points – okay, nice.
o Then we lost to Celtic away! L Inter in the ascendancy and I was starting to fear the Europa League.
o I made a tactical choice to play for the draw in Milan and secured it – a win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv at home would then secure at least second place as neither Inter or Celtic were able to consistently dominate. We thrashed Maccabi and ended up first in our group by one point! J
· We were given a decent draw in the 1st Knockout round with AS Monaco Football Club our opponents. Away from home in the first leg we went for a draw and came away with an excellent 0-1 win thanks a strike [not a header] from an enterprising Felix Uduokhai. In the second leg we ended up comfortable winners, 4-1 on aggregate, as Timo Werner came up trumps with a hat-trick to send us through after he had exchanged strikes with Monaco’s Sergio Díaz in a crazy first six minutes.
· After the first leg of the Quarter Final in Germany – it was 0-0 between us and, as of recent times, perpetual European adversaries A.S. Roma. What we couldn’t afford was an early goal to our hosts in Rome so it was even better for us when Naby Keïta stabbed home from close range after a corner was guided on into the 6 yard box; Abdel Diouri added a classy second and although Roma scored a goal, Predrag Rajkovic was up to the task of keeping them at bay.
o Kylian Mbappé unable to spur the Italians on against his old team whilst Jorge Meré missed both legs with an injury.
· 0-0 away in Manchester was a great result as we faced off against United in the Semi Final; it could have been better as Dele Alli was sent off for two yellow cards but we went for a 0-0 and that’s what we got. Second leg should be tou…YESSS!! Kai Havertz fired home early, doubled the trick which in turn began our best performance of this season if not the best so far…5-0. Satisfying and going some considerable way to erase the memory of our penalty shootout heartbreak of a few seasons past.
· A symmetrical end to our season as we found ourselves back at Hertha BSC’s Olympiastadion in Berlin; the final on German soil and the weight of the nation on us but perhaps also behind us as we took on the leviathan that is Real Madrid C.F.; it was to our great credit that on this occasion we played to our strengths (being hard to beat) whilst also dominating the play.
o There were no clear cut chances for either team but when we had a chance of sorts, Naby Keïta, came up with the goods. A placed strike beyond Real Madrid’s Captain Keeps, Gianluigi Donnarumma, in the 50th minute.
o This proved to be enough and our own Captain, Kai Havertz, lifted aloft the Champions League trophy. For Bayer 04 Leverkusen but also for Germany! A great way to finish the decade, I’m sure you’ll agree. J
Memorable Goals: -
Highlights package from the 6-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv: -
Naby Keïta wins the Champions League for Bayer 04 Leverkusen!!!: -
Player of the Match (Collated)
Players listed either Player of the Match, officially, or my Player of the Match when an opposition player was chosen instead.
· 7 PoM = Patrick Güllenbeck, Ignacio Tevez.
· 5 PoM = Marcus Rashford.
· 4 PoM = Kai Havertz, Fatawu Tetteh.
· 3 PoM = Roberto Arroyo, Abdel Diouri, Walace, Timo Werner.
· 2 PoM = Jannes Horn, Naby Keïta.
· 1 PoM = Nadiem Amiri, Christian Artmann, Mahmoud Dahoud, Andrey Fedorov, Akın Özcan, Jairo Riedewald, Michael Simons, Kim Sung-Ryong.
· 0 PoM (1,000 minutes minimum) = Felix Passlack, Predrag Rajkovic, Rubén Simón, Felix Uduokhai.
1. (=) Patrick Güllenbeck (MC) PoM > 7
1. (=) Ignacio Tevez (LM) PoM > 7
2. Marcus Rashford (SC) PoM > 5
3. (=) Kai Havertz (AMC) PoM > 4
3. (=) Fatawu Tetteh (DC) PoM > 4
Youth Prospects (Analysis)
Major European League Winners 2025/6
England: Manchester United
France: Paris Saint-Germain
Germany: FC Bayern München
Italy: F.C. Internazionale
Netherlands: Feyenoord Rotterdam
Portugal: Sport Lisboa e Benfica
Spain: C. Atlético de Madrid SAD
Close Season Awards 2025/6 - Fußball-Bundesliga & Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Elf des Jahres
· Included in XI: Nadiem Amiri
Season 11 > 2026/7 – Preview
· Having achieved our first major goal in winning the club’s first Champions League, we will turn our attention to the massive challenge of attempting to win the club’s first German Clean Sweep; a German Clean Sweep consists of winning, in one season, everything possible: -
b. UEFA Super Cup.
c. FIFA Club World Cup.
d. DFB-Pokal Cup.
f. Champions League.
· We’ll achieve this challenge only by regularly contesting the Champions League Final which will in the short term be by having an exceptional first XI with good squad depth; to truly sustain long term progress we also want to get good young players in with high ceilings that we can then build up without having to spend too much which in turn can be invested back into the club’s infrastructure. It’s a balancing act.
· For Season 11 I will be looking to streamline the current squad, moving on a few of the older players (e.g. Dahoud, Uduokhai, Werner) to reduce wages and offset one or two big transfers (i.e. Fellah). Winning the German Clean Sweep immediately, at the first time of asking, will be tough but not impossible.
· Infrastructure remains an issue, particularly the stadium, so if we have to take a step back to move two steps forward then that is what we will do; there is plenty of time to achieve our goals and many exciting moments to come, I hope. J