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Christian Schäfer - Der Professor

Can the librarian from Dresden revolutionise football?
Started on 3 April 2016 by Justice
Latest Reply on 25 June 2018 by Justice
I just realised how reminiscent this is of FM Rookie's KuPs story years ago! If you have nearly as much success as him you'll go down even more of a legend in Finland :P
Justice's avatar Group Justice
8 yearsEdited

Neymar Claims FIFA Ballon d'Or Award

Barcelona And Brazil Captain Neymar Was Named As FIFA Ballon d'Or Winner


Barcelona and Brazil captain Neymar was named as the winner of the annual FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the year 2024. Neymar became the first Brazilian to win the award since Kaká in 2007, and amassed more than double the points of runner-up Kevin De Bruyne. Neymar captained his club to victory in the Supercopa de España of 2024, defeating Real Madrid in the final, and his team are currently nine points clear at the top of Liga BBVA.

While Neymar's most natural position has certainly been in a central attacking role, the Brazilian superstar has played as a left midfielder under Joachim Löw in recent years. The 32 year old has still managed to be among the goals, and scored 19 times in 55 appearances over the course of 2024. Neymar's impressive all-round play has propelled him to becoming the best player in the world, and will certainly be looking to add many more awards to his ever-growing collection.

It was Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne who claimed the runner-up position. The 33 year old won the award last year, but had to settle for second best this time around. Now in the twilight of his career, De Bruyne has settled in to a cultured wide playmaker; orchestrating attacking moves and producing magical passes, both short range and long range. De Bruyne was directly involved in 30 goals over the course of 2024, as he scored 10 and assisted 20 in 51 appearances.

It was De Bruyne's fellow countryman, Chelsea's Eden Hazard, who claimed third position. The 33 year old played a key role in Chelsea lifting their fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League trophy, and continued to dazzle fans with amazing pieces of trickery on the ball. Hazard's years of service to the club has seen a statue erected outside Stamford Bridge in his honour, standing tall alongside those of José Mourinho, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Gianfranco Zola.

The same three players claimed the same three places in the World Player Of The Year award, and were included in a FIFA World Team Of The Year which included no Spaniards and just one Englishman. The Team of The Year included recent AS Monaco signing Philippe Coutinho and 21 year old Roman Arkhipov of Monaco and Russia, while Nathan McDaid of Manchester United made the cut.

Meanwhile in Europe, it was AS Monaco's Russian winger Roman Arkhipov who claimed the European Golden Boy award for the fifth year in a row. The tricky speedster already has 41 caps for his country to his name, and has become one of the most exciting players in world football. Perhaps he could go on to claim a stake for the FIFA Ballon d'Or in the future.

Previous Update: #87 - Finnish Domestic Football - An Overview
Next Update: #89 - Season 2025 - Squad Overview
The first Brazilian since 2007? That's insane!
I am interested to see how De Bruyne got so far up, not too sure where the best position to play him is
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

Season 2025 - Squad Overview

An Overview Of JJK's Squad & The Key Players Ahead Of The 2025 Season


The drop in quality of player from Real Madrid to JJK Jyväskylä was evident to Christian Schäfer from day one of training. While the vast majority of players were full-time professional footballers, they played for a semi-professional club in the second division of Finnish football. In comparison to the training methods of Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Martial of Real Madrid, the JJK playing staff were light-years behind.

Schäfer's latest venture had brought him to a level of football lower than even that of his first season with Dynamo Dresden, in 2015. To Schäfer, who had been accustomed to working with defenders of the stature of Juan Bernat and Raphaël Varane, with midfielders capable of controlling play such as Toni Kroos and Andrés Cubas, and with attackers capable of creating a multitude of chances each game such as James Rodríguez and Hirving Lozano, the playing ability of JJK Jyväskylä was somewhat of a shock to the system.

However, while the players lacked the technical ability, physical prowess and tactical nous of football's elite, they did not lack passion for the game. Their desire to play, to learn and to improve gave 'Der Professor' plenty of encouragement to delve in to his new job. Schäfer full-heartedly threw himself in to working with his new players, and learning as much as he could of them.

Team Report

The squad itself was quite a large one. There was plenty of competition in each position on the pitch, except for attacking midfield. The playing abilities of the key players, combined with the positions of these players, suggested that a 4-4-2 would be the most suitable formation to use throughout Schäfer's first season in Finland.

Niko Markkula - DR

Niko Markkula, aged 34, was one of JJK's most experienced footballers. The full-back was certainly a key cog in the system and provided more than just defensive aptitude, with a constant desire to attack and to invade the opposition area. Despite his age, Markkula possessed a fair amount of pace, and his impressive work rate signaled him to be an important work-horse on the right flank.

Simon Thurling - MC

Simon Thurling, aged 27, was a valuable asset in the middle of the park. His passing range and physical prowess made him an ideal candidate to be the focal point of JJK's midfield. He possessed plenty of experience and a desire to reach new-found heights with the club. However, Thurling was reputed as a very injury-prone player, and could not be relied on to play a part in the team throughout the entire season.

Antto Hilska - ST

Antto Hilska, aged 31, was certainly JJK's talisman striker at the time. The speedy attacker was expected to be the team's main source of goals over the course of the season, and he was certainly looking to endear himself to the fans. Hilska was on a relatively large wage, but Schäfer was eager to tie him down to a longer deal than the one-year contract which he was on.

Previous Update: #88 - Neymar Claims FIFA Ballon d'Or Award
Next Update: #90 - January 2025 - June 2025
I love this teams badge, such a great move, back to lower league minnows to prove yourself. Love it, will be reading again!
:D Its back! Big push now until FM17 please :D ;)
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

January 2025 - June 2025

An Overview Of The First Half Of JJK's 2025 Season


Aside from one player leaving on loan, there was no transfer activity in Schäfer's first few months in charge of JJK. 'Der Professor' felt that he would have to work with the players already at the club for a period of time in order to fully comprehend the situation and challenges which the club faced on the football pitch.

Liga Ykkönen

The league season started off brightly for Christian Schäfer's army as they recorded a comprehensive home victory over JIPPO Joensu in their opening fixture of the league campaign. In the club's first fourteen games of the league season, they played a total of fourteen games (thirteen remaining) and won an incredible eleven of these, drawing the other three.

League Table

An unbeaten first half of the league season meant that Schäfer's team sat comfortably in first place. FC Jazz and PK-35 Vantaa were JJK's closest challengers, yet they had to settle with being eight points behind the league leaders. While JJK were the top scoring team in the division, it was their defensive record which really stood out, as they conceded just six goals in fourteen games. It was a strong defensive record which had become synonymous with Schäfer's teams in the past.

Suomen Cup

JIPPO Joensu were JJK's first opposition in the Suomen Cup, just as they were in the league, but stood no chance at all as Ketus marched to victory. Neither Härmä or KPV Kokkola proved to be of sufficient caliber to put an end to JJK's cup run, but a sixth round tie against fierce rivals KuPS promised to be an enthralling encounter. KuPS were in the top division of Finland, and were certainly favourites in the fixture, but Schäfer's side were not to be stopped, and they marched through to the next round following a very promising victory. The quarter final saw Antti Varis scored a dramatic last-minute winner to send JJK through to the semi-finals, where they would go on to face FC Inter Turku during the second half of their season.

JJK Jyväskylä News

The club was in a very strong financial position, and the promise of potential promotion, as well as a place in the semi-final of the cup, boded well for the future of the club. The club was certainly expected to see their financial power strengthen in the next few years, which would then allow future development of the club's facilities.

Previous Update: #89 - Season 2025 - Squad Overview
Next Update: #91 - July 2025 - October 2025
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

July 2025 - October 2025

An Overview Of The Second Half Of JJK's 2025 Season


The opening half of the season gave Christian Schäfer a good idea of the talent available to him at JJK, and August saw the beginning of a redevelopment to the squad. Anselmi Nurmela joined from AC Oulu for free in order to add competition to the right full-back and central midfield positions. Eighteen year-old Tom Tuominen was signed from KPV Kokkola to add depth to attacking midfield, a position where JJK lacked players, as well as to play a covering role for the club's strikers. The final signing of the three, Topias Tammelin, was brought in from VPS in order to bolster the team's defense. Schäfer hoped that Tammelin would become a key figure of the club's back four for years to come.

Liga Ykkönen

JJK's unbeaten league run continued all the way up to their fourth last game of the season when FC Ilves dealt Schäfer's side a surprise blow on the final day of August. However, this disappointment did not set 'Der Professor's' team back too far, as they then went on to record three victories from three in the final stages of the season. Impressive results included a 4-0 hammering of MP Mikkeli, a resounding 3-0 win away to PK-35 Vantaa, and a comeback to marvel those of the ages in a jaw-dropping 5-2 victory over AC Oulu.

League Table

JJK's efforts proved to be enough to claim the title, and promotion to the Veikkausliiga. Schäfer's men were, by far, the dominant side in the division, and boasted the best attacking and defensive record of any teams in the league. MP Mikkeli and KPV Kokkola did not do enough to avoid the drop to Liga Kakkonen, while FC Jazz were left disappointed that they could not close down JJK for the only promotion place.

JJK's exploits were reward as Christian Schäfer was named as Liga Ykkönen's Manager of the Year, while JJK's Mikael Luostarinen and Jonne Porkka came second and third, respectively, in the voting for the Player of the Year award. Niko Markkula, Joona Itkonen, Benno Hanslian and Antto Hilska of JJK joined the aforementioned duo in the Team of the Season, and Antto Hilska finished second in the race for the Golden Boot, with Kasperi Liikonen of FC Jazz getting his hands on the prize.

Suomen Cup

A strong showing from JJK, attributed by braces from strikers Antto Hilska and Genc Kovaki, meant that Christian Schäfer's team demolished Veikkausliiga side FC Inter Turku in the semi final of the cup, paving the way for an all-Liga Ykkönen final as AC Oulu reached the final. It was a somewhat tense affair, but Antto Hilska shone yet again as he scored a brace before winning a last-minute penalty which was converted coolly by Niko Markkula to hand Christian Schäfer his first piece of silverware as JJK manager, and passage to the qualification phase of the UEFA Europa League.

JJK Jyväskylä News

JJK's cup victory gave them a reasonable amount of prize money, and thus ended the season with the club making a considerable profit of €218,445. The club is expected to invest a large amount of this money in to maintenance work, while a large amount of money has been set aside to develop the club's training facilities. JJK are expected to see an increase in received sponsorship, due to promotion and European qualification, but restricting wage rise will certainly be a task for Christian Schäfer.

Previous Update: #90 - January 2025 - June 2025
Next Update: #92 - Schäfer: Future With JJK
Big well done dude!
Good job in the second division and a great job in the cup. Would definitely bet on you to win the league so no pressure
Sorry, theres a team called FC Jazz, thats beautiful xD well done on your season, absolutely bossed it
Justice's avatar Group Justice
7 yearsEdited

Schäfer: Future With JJK

Christian Schäfer Offered JJK Fans Reassurances Over His Future


JJK Jyväskylä manager Christian Schäfer confirmed rumours that there several clubs across Europe who had shown interest in his potential availability, but the forty-five year old German was quick to offer reassurances to his club's fans that his future remained with the Finnish club.

Christian, can you describe your first year of football management in Finland?

Christian Schäfer: "It has been a fantastic year for me, I think I would have to say. I came to Finland to experience new, and exciting, football traditions, and I cannot have any complaints after what has been a tremendous year for myself, and especially for JJK Jyväskylä.

I came to the club a year ago without a single word of the Finnish language, and with no real knowledge of the club's situation, or of its history. One year later, I feel I can speak some good Finnish, but maybe you are a better judge of that than I am! I have learned a lot about the club too, and what football means to people here in Jyväskylä. Maybe ice hockey and Formula One are more popular here, but there is a great passion for football too, and we saw that through the attendance figures in each game.

We performed fantastically to overcome the media expectations by winning the league title, and earning promotion to the Veikkausliiga, as well as winning the cup and earning a place in the Europa League qualifiers next year. I can only look back at my first year here with great fondness and I have plenty of gratitude for Markus Knuutinen because he granted me this fantastic opportunity."

You have built quite a reputation for the defensive standards which you set during previous jobs, and JJK impressively conceded just 17 goals in 27 league games last season. Would you consider the defensive side of football to be the most important?

Christian Schäfer: "There are many different ways to play football, and many different ways to express your ability. Of course, the only way you can win a game is by scoring more goals than your opponent, so of course the objective is to score goals. Perhaps the most valuable footballers of all time have been attackers who showed a great ability to score goals, so of course it is important to score goals, and we proved last season that we were very capable of finding the back of the net. I believe we were also the top scoring team in the division last season too.

However, I do know that if you do not concede a goal in a game, you do not lose. In the league, this means that you have earned a minimum of one point in each game, if you do not concede. So while we do try to score as many goals as we can in a match, we also make sure that we do not leave ourselves vulnerable to conceding a goal. If we do not concede, then we do not lose. I think that is a simple philosophy to follow, in theory at least!"

JJK fans have found themselves worrying that clubs across Europe will lure you away from Finland. Where do you plan your future to be?

Christian Schäfer: "It is true that I have received a number of offers from clubs across Europe, but my future is here at JJK. To be respectful to the clubs, and their representatives, I will not disclose information on who expressed interest in my work. I would like to assure the fans of JJK that as long as the club and myself feel that my tenure proves to be beneficial for JJK, then I shall not be leaving. Until a time comes where the club, or myself, feel that my time here is over, there are no questions to be asked of my future."

European football awaits JJK next season. How great an experience will it be for the club?

Christian Schäfer: "It is a fantastic opportunity for the club, of course. To even be involved in the qualifying stages of the Europa League is a tremendous honour, and I am sure the players and fans will enjoy the fixtures which we will play.

However, I must stress that we will not be participating to make up the numbers. We deserve our place in the qualifying rounds just as much as any of our potential opponents do. While we will certainly enjoy the occasion, we will be looking to stay in the competition for as long as possible, and we can only do that by defeating whoever we play."

Do you have a message for the fans of JJK Jyväskylä following a very successful season?

Christian Schäfer: "I would like to say thank you to every single fan who supported us this season and I hope that everybody enjoyed the football we played and the results we achieved. We look forward to hosting our supporters next year and we hope to create some more memories for them to be fond of."

Previous Update: #91 - July 2025 - October 2025
Next Update: #93 - Çiçek Wins FIFA Ballon d'Or

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