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[FM21] Whole Yellow Sun

After suffering an attempt against his life where he though he would be safe, Deniz Naki got no place to go. In this story, he will try to bounce back, and, as a manager, realize the potential he never did as a player.
Started on 14 November 2020 by Tango
Latest Reply on 1 March 2021 by TheLFCFan
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12. Trainwreck


With the World Cup being exceptionally played in November/December, it meant that we had another squeezed calendar, as pre-season could not be cut short too much. Surviving in all competitions now is not only a matter of quality, but also fresh legs. Let’s get to it.

August 2022


The season was kicked-off with a late, late drama with Aimar Sher salvaging a draw at the curtains call. Then, we lined up three wins in a row with another three ties. Paraguayan Fernando Ovelar is already showing signs of an early bloomer, being a shadow for Simone Palombi.

September 2022


As resistible as a cliché involving the Green Day song should be at this point, we got beaten up in a way that we only managed to recover our senses when September ended. The overpowering victory at the Pokal and the beautiful 4-2 at the Berliner Derby were overshadowed by the humbling defeats against Barcelona and, most remarkably, Chelsea. As we gave Dortmund a rough time to beat us 1-0, Deniz thought his side was ready for the challenge. Fool’s mistake.

October 2022


In a month in which we managed to not get a single clean sheet, we still had a somewhat good performance. At the attack, Ovelar is proving himself to be a thing, forcing me to move Palombi to the left-wing and Hakšabanović to the bench. In the Bundesliga, 10 points in 15 possible. In the UCL, a gutting defeat against Chelsea in a game that we gave it all to recover from a dreadful start but missed chances to get it back, and a defeat against Barcelona for a scoreline that looks way better for us than the game was.

November and December 2022


Two games with 60 days and a World Cup between each other. After another tie against Lyon and the subsequent elimination from the UCL without even a Europa League spot, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar took place, with Portugal conquering their first-ever world title while we lost some friendlies here and there. On the return, at New Year’s Eve, Bundesliga started over with another draw against Schalke.

Partial Standings - 14 to 17 games in


These are the standings before the Schalke game. Some clubs have only 15 games with 2 games missing because of UCL or UEL - including Augsburg, the Pokal winners of last season - and the others were just the games that the previous clubs had rescheduled. Dortmund got slightly away, but is still catchable by Bayern, who is playing far below their optimal level. Schalke, Leverkusen and us are still there in the fight, even though dreaming about the title is quiiite a stretch.

Reply


@ScottT we are still having another nice season in the Bundesliga, but let's forget about this miracle thing for a moment
Given the dominance shown by the frontrunners over many years, being within the margins you are even at this modest stage is an achievement in-keeping with the general development of the club under your management.

13. The unthinkable


Our participation in the UCL, although catastrophic, brought something this club was lacking: cash. Good ol’ cash. And with another good showing in the Bundesliga, the board trusted Naki with some more money in the transfer market to keep the form going. Naki, however, used the biggest chunk of the money to invest in the future, favoring young players at the market. Some sales were made, although Union still lacks the quality player that would make a big sell. The outbound consisted on two players were outgrown by the club’s status and Rafa Mir, who proved himself to be a mistake only 6 months after coming in.

First-team level

GK Dani Martín, age 24
CB Victor Nelsson, age 24
DM Oriol Busquets, age 23

Although those three players bring quality to the squad, only one of them will be going immediately to the first team. As we needed better quality on the defence, Nelsson shouldn’t really have too much competition there. Busquets, who has an older brother that also plays this sport (the goal-keeper Pol Busquets), will be the immediate option in case we need to vary from the 4-2-3-1 with an attacking mid to a 4-5-1 with a defensive mid. Dani Martín has better attributes than our first GK Früchtl, but as Deniz doesn't want to break his momentum, Dani will warm the bench for the time being.

Bench level

CM Phillip Wydra, age 19
AM Gastón Pereyra, age 18

Future star level

DM Nicolai Madsen, age 18
CM Eddie Clark, age 19

All these players were brought with the expectation of making it to the first-team in the future, and some of them can be a second half option as of now. Wydra was brought for almost nothing, and Pereyra is expected to be a world class talent in the short-term future. Madsen is a talent that his team failed to hold on to and sold for some coffee change, and Eddie Clark is a very promising player that had a fight with his manager at Dortmund.

As mentioned before, Union will hold on to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Palombi being rearranged at the left-wing to make space for our diminutive yet lethal Fernando Ovelar to shine. Spoiler alert: Palombi will never leave the left-wing.

January 2023


Another squeezed calendar month, as the games delayed by the World Cup were played on Wednesdays. Palombi has adapted marvelously to the winger role, as he served his companions and scored for himself with impressive prowess, including a decisive performance in a fantastic 3-0 over Leverkusen. Ovelar didn’t fall behind his team-mate, if only the opposite: the striker scored 9 goals in 7 games, including two hat-tricks against the Burgs. The icing of the cake was a tie against Bayern, even though we could’ve won after they had a player sent off at the 42nd minute and we had a xG of 1.46.

February 2023


Knocked out of the UCL without an UEL spot, the calendar started to ease off starting from February. The German clubs still in continental competition would be Dortmund, knocked-out at the first knockout round by Atlético and Schalke, knocked-out at UEL’s first knockout round by Celtic. All other German clubs, including Bayern, had no European games in the second semester. For us, another invincible month, highlighting the exciting extra-time victory at the Berliner Derby for the Pokal.

March 2023


Even though it was the month that our fantastic invincible run ended, we can still consider a good month, with another Derby win and a solid display against Köln. The treacherous Eintracht would be the club to end our run, with a banger from Filip Kostić.

April 2023


Mixed-up emotions in April: a fantastic display in the Bundesliga, bringing Gladbach and RBL to their knees and fending off the powerful Bayern attack. To be 100% honest with you, Bayern is having an atypical season, but it is a nice result nonetheless. At the Pokal, a gutting defeat against Dortmund, with Union falling victim to its own extra-time poison. We can get past this defeat however, with a very solid month that put us into the fight for the title. Exactly. For the title.

May 2023


The game against Freiburg was a whole opera, with glory, tragedy, and redemption. Soon in the game we had a comfortable 2-0 new lead, that we let slip between our fingers at the 80th and 82nd minute, when Bye and an own goal from De Sciglio almost blew our chances. Ovelar, however, got a late winner at the 92nd minute and sealed our destiny as contenders. And against Stuttgart, again Ovelar, again at the 92nd minute, and if you are standing up, please have a seat:

UNION BERLIN WON THE BUNDESLIGA


Bayern had a poor season, and our invincible run between October and March put us right on Borussia’s tail. When they started to vacillate, we managed to keep our heads down and work towards an unbelievable feat. Next season, we will be seeded at the UCL draw.

Naki finally won the award for the best German manager of the season, as Ovelar beat the Statunitian sensation Ricardo Bye to the NxGn 2023 award.

Bundesliga 2022/2023 - Season Review


Reply


Harleygator: I think we can be proud of building a strong squad with players who work well with each other, making us good enough to be the ‘best of the rest’. In a moment of very poor football practiced by Bayern (and the terrible performance of German football at European level in general), we could manage to be the ones seizing this opportunity.
Some great deals in there and a simply phenomenal finish to the season. A shame there was no double in the cards but to maintain that league run as well as going far in the cup shows a lot of steel in this squad.

14. Like a champion


Winning the Bundesliga was so unthinkable that we had to rush to stores to buy tuxedos for some players in order to be able to participate in the award-giving gala to be taken after the season ended. That’s the size of the challenge ahead of us: defend the title.

I mean, obviously, we won’t defend the title. Do not expect Union to come out of this as two-times German champions, it won’t happen. But our position as champions demands that we strengthen our squad. Money, however, is still short. Better than ever, mostly because of the sales we made, but still short.

Transfers In / Transfers out

Haksa made his way into Forbes' lists going to Saudi Arabia, and other players were sold because they proved themselves at least insufficient.

First-team level

RB Noussair Mazraoui, age 25

Mazraoui was brought from Ajax using that good ol’ pre-sign feature, making Deniz another enemy.

Rotation level

CB Armel Bella-Kotchap, age 21
DM Nikolas Nartey, age 23
RW Tim Lemperle, age 21
LW Bautista Tobio, age 18

Bella-Kotchap is a young sensation that has been on Union’s radar forever but only now, with the contract about to end, Bochum lowered their guard. By not letting him leave and not being promoted to the Bundesliga, they slowed down the development of a very fine youngster. His arrival and Lemperle’s, a good right winger from the excellent Köln youth academy, show that Union is finally being able to bring German players. The other players in this list are Nartey, a young player with a lot of potential captured from the relegated Stuttgart, and Tobio, an Argentinean that I can’t wait until he fully develops.

Prospects

GK Agustín Vázquez, age 18
RB Joakim Dolk, age 18
ST Mateus, age 18

Some screenshots missed here and there, but Vázquez and Dolk are fine youngsters with a lot of ground for development - and you’ll only have me to trust on this one - and Mateus came in my attempt of scouting players with German as a second nationality.

Let’s go ahead and see through the first half of the season already, let’s speed this up.

August, 2023


The season began with the Supercup, of Union, Bundesliga’s champion, against Bayern, Pokal’s champion (what about that?). Of course, we lost. Later, a tough challenge against the brave Duisburg, who gave my subs a sweat. The Bundesliga began solidly, with two nice wins.

September, 2023


Another two Bundesliga wins until the debut at 2023/24 UCL, against Porto. We were brought back to the ground as we played poorly and showed that there is still a lot to catch up continent-wise. After that, a tight victory against Bremen, a tie at Leipzig and a disappointing tie at home against Mainz, the kind of points that we wouldn’t drop last season.

October, 2023


At our 8th UCL game, finally our first UCL win. Yes, the Swiss side of St. Gallen is not exactly a Manchester City, but 2,7 million euros came to our bank account regardless. Speaking of which, Man City humbled us down with a 4-1 defeat at the very next continental fixture. At home we still thrived, beating Schalke, as usual, and Köln, but dropped some more points at home against Hoffenheim. A comfortable victory over Sandhausen sees us in the next round of the Pokal.

November, 2023


In November, Bautista Tobio stopped being considered a prospect and got his place in the first team, benching Aimar Sher. He was the highlight of a gutting month, that started off with a maiden win over Bayern, but then evolved to a gutting defeat against City in a match we proved ourselves worthy enough of a point, and the loss of our invincibility an der Alten Försterei. As we will see next month, even the victory over Porto ended up being bittersweet.

December, 2023


Even though we beat St. Gallen, the 3-1 over Porto meant that we missed out at the second stage of the UCL because of the away goals at the head-to-head matches, finishing 3rd in the group, after Porto recovered their points dropped against St. Gallen by beating City at the Dragão stadium. In the Bundesliga, a ridiculous tie galore, spending a whole month unbeaten, but not beating. This clownery will certainly cost us dearly.

Partial Bundesliga Standings after 17 rounds


A season like no other being followed by a season like no other. Bayern dropped the ball massively in the next few seasons, and Dortmund, of course, found a way to not profit from their mistakes. The big winner of the whole thing is Leverkusen, who got away from everyone with 9 points ahead of us in second place, cementing their way towards never being called Neverkusen again.

As the season draws predictable title-wise, with Leverkusen only having to do management work to get away with the silverware, Union is still in an exciting 4-way battle for the remaining 3 spots at the UCL, and we’ll make our first appearance ever at the UEL the next semester.

Reply


@Jack these kids have steel indeed, even though Bayern and Dortmund bottled it, it could still have gone to anyone, yet it came to us
Incredible work! The Bundesliga sure looks like it's buckling under Union's pressure ;)
I wouldn't throw the league away just yet; 9 points is definitely a gap a human manager is capable of closing! :)

15. May Madness (or the life of Aimar Sher)


For the second half of the 23/24 season, we made something I’ve been eager to do for years already: bring unquestionable players in. Players that will unanimously bring quality to our squad. Finally, we have the guns for it. And, as we will see later at this episode, these signings proportioned plenty of entertainment, for good and bad reasons. The board put some cash into our hands and we brought the bling.

Transfers In / Transfers Out

Top quality signings

CB Felix Uduokhai, age 26
CM Mahmoud Dahoud, age 28

Uduokhai, a solid centre-back that unfairly completed his 26th anniversary in a club like Augsburg, where he completely annulled our strikers at the 0-0 tie in December. He had to be brought. The other stellar signing was Mahmoud Dahoud, the second Kurdish player in our squad, signed by activating his ridiculously small release clause.

Rotation level

GK Erol Coskun, age 17
CB Benjamín Kuscevic, age 27

All eyes towards Erol Coskun: he’s already at place to fight with Dani Martín for the goal-keeping spot and can become even better as he matures. The other rotation-level signing was the excellent Chilean Benjamín Kuscevic, who will fight for a spot against the well-performing Victor Nelsson.

January 2024


This episode will not only be the story of Union Berlin, but also a story about the Kurdish attacking-midfielder Aimar Sher, who had been benched at his club because of the rise of two Argentineans: Tobio and Pereyra. With the arrival of Mahmoud Dahoud, Sher definitely lost his place in the Starting XI. So when Union beat Hertha and Gladbach, he came out of the bench and played some minutes.

February 2024


Outshined by Tobio and Palombi, Sher hasn’t seen his name at February’s scoresheet. One of the best players during the first years of Naki, he seems more than ever to be losing space. The club was winning, and he was not a part of it. It felt like a game over. Until Europa League came by. Union needed a win after missing chances and getting no more than a draw against Villarreal and Dahoud was ineligible for the competition, as he had played in it representing Köln. The team won, but Sher played poorly and was substituted by Oriol Busquets, as Naki wanted a more defensive team for the second half.

March 2024


Union finally lost another game after some more months invincible, but the main story relies on the Europa League. Playing the giants Arsenal, Union dropped another tie at home, after the Gunners opened the scoreline with an early penalty kick. In the second leg, Arsenal sat on the advantage and tried to take control of the match, fending off our advances to perfection. Until the man got his call and scored a banger at the 92nd minute of the encounter. Aimar Sher, one-nil. The fans that traveled from Berlin to London went bananas. Sher, the Kurdish midfielder, commanded by Naki, the Kurdish manager, sent Union to the quarter-finals.

April 2024


Here, the story bifurcates. We overpowered Bayern, but this is far from the main story here.

Remember Leverkusen? This is him now, feel old yet? After finishing the first half of the season 9 points in front of anyone, Neverkusen has came back to life with their unbelievable run of 3 wins, 4 draws, and 7 defeats at the previous 14 games, blowing the league wide open. We had our wobbles ourselves, Bayern and Dortmund sketched a recovery, Frankfurt came out of nowhere to be part of a four-way title fight.

At Europa League, we had some rare opportunity to breathe by sending the sensation Midtjylland packing with two wins. At Pokal, another gutting elimination, this time at the penalty shoot-outs.

May 2024

The unfold of the events of April turned May into chaos. The month would be a title decider for Bundesliga and Europa League with 6 games for a club that never played more than 3 games in May before. Leverkusen, who unbelievably fumbled the Bundesliga, had their eyes fuming for some redemption at Europa League.

And they got a tie at Olympiastadion, where the game was moved to allow Union to profit from the ticket sales. Amiri opened the scoreline, but Ovelar tied it right away. In Bundesliga, a mix of first-team and substitutes got a turn-around over Wolfsburg, enough to keep Union at the fight.

The second leg of the UEL semifinal promised more drama: the 0-0 of the first-half would put Leverkusen into the final, and Paulinho making it 1-0 for the home side turned it into an even more dramatic game for us. Fortunately, it didn’t take long until Lemperle got the equalizer that led the game to extra-time. Ovelar entered the pitch at the 69th minute, but was knocked out of the game at the 78th minute by an injury.

Aimar Sher came in.

At the 85th minute, Lemperle found Tobio open to score. The goal-keeper couldn’t deny him. But the VAR did. Offside. Only the extra-time would tell who’s the winner, and if not that, penalties. It wasn’t until Tobio found Sher at the box. He chipped the keeper, but he didn’t connect the way he should. The ball touches the keeper's left hand side post and rolls over the line. When the defenders got there to clear it, it was too late. The ball was entirely behind the line. Sher gets Union into the Europa League final.


Hungover, Union faced Dortmund the next game and was torn into pieces. Alexander Isak scored a hat-trick, Union was wrecked, but the title fight was not over, as Union managed to put their shit together at Mainz. As their recovery came too late, Dortmund and Bayern were out. It was Union against Eintracht, it all came down to this. Union needed to beat Leverkusen at home and cheer for Wolsfburg to steal points at Frankfurt, which happened. Frankfurt dropped two points at home.
But we did the same. We failed to beat Leverkusen’s defence and the 0-0 meant the Bundesliga went to Frankfurt. Eintracht Frankfurt of all people, German champions for the second time, the first since 1959.

But Union still had the Europa League final, which would be played against Tottenham. Naki’s game was simple: jam, irritate, hurt. Jam the game, irritate the opposition, hurt them when they are vulnerable. We jammed the game, as the multi-millionaire Spurs reached the sub-optimal 0.98 xG score. We irritated them, as we made them nervous and overly desperate for a goal. We hurt them, by finding an opening in a counter-attack played by Reis to Sher, to Lemperle open at the right wing, to Ovelar unmarked at the box, to the back of the net. The only goal of the game.

Union Berlin, Europa League champions.


Final Standings - Bundesliga


That was the final picture of it all. Leverkusen, from 9 points ahead the second place, to 2 points short of the UCL spot. Eintracht Frankfurt, the champions appearing out of nowhere. Union, the gutted side that almost clinched a second despite all the hiccups along the way. Dortmund and Bayern, the underperforming giants. It had it all. Not the best quality. But boy, we didn’t miss it.

The Bundesliga didn’t come this time, but a continental trophy did. I take it.

Replies


@Jack we can indeed say that Union Berlin made things more interesting than they were, definitely

@Harleygator after the way NEVERkusen bottled it, even the AI can close some 10 points
So, so unlucky not to win the title with just a single goal needed to change the tide. Great work in Europe, though. Really establishing a long term vision for success now!
Another excellent season for Union and another trophy to add to the cabinet. Hopefully with a few more additions over the summer, Union will be more prepared to give the Champions League a go once again.
I have to admit, I thought the massive leap to the Bundesliga could have been one too soon for Deniz but how wrong I was. He has completely turned around the club and I am sure Edlund is regretting not giving him that coaching course now! Incredible job done here!

16. The so-called normality


The success at long-term is not only defined by the results on the pitch, but also by the evolution outside the four white lines. So this season we will not be playing at den Alten Försterei, as it will be closed for expansion reforms, and we will use the Olympiastadion instead.

Another “change” for this season is that Bayern will attempt to bring German football back to that boring normality of the years previous to Naki’s intrusion. And they invested on it, bringing three players very well known for the fans of football worldwide: the Englishman Dele Alli came for €20.5 million from Dortmund, the Brazilian Matheus Cunha was brought from Hertha for a potential fee of €63M and the Uruguayan Santi Rodríguez came for a potential amount of €71M.

We didn’t have this kind of cash ourselves, so we had to improvise in order to adapt accordingly. As the club grew in reputation, many of our erstwhile good players were outgrown by the club’s status and had to find their places in clubs whose ambitions are more suitable for their level. It is a sad part of the game, as these players are somewhat punished for their own success, and I hope they find happiness wherever they go.

Transfers In / Transfers Out

Star level

RW Thomas Müller, age 34
ST Ricardo Bye, age 21

Thomas Müller is the sort of player that requires no introduction. In his whole career with Bayern, he achieved 11 Bundesliga titles, 7 Pokalen, and 2 fancy eared UEFA Champions League trophies. And the past meets the future with the signing of the bright Ricardo Bye, whose relegation release clause has been triggered after Freiburg went down last season, even with his 18 goals scored at the competition.

First-team level

RB Moussa Wagué, age 25

After some below par performances from Mazraoui last season, he made room for the good Wagué, who although is yet far from achieving the potential envisioned when he was at Barcelona B, is still a very good player.

Substitute level

RB Matías Ponce, age 20
LB Jesús Blanco, age 18

Future star level

ST Mamadou Devaux, age 18

A lot of players were brought this season thinking about the club’s future, but those three are the ones going directly to the main squad. Ponce has been loaned out because of the amount of right-backs in our squad, but Blanco will be straight-away used as a shadow for Miranda. Devaux is still short of the squad level, but he is getting there. He will be the first national of a micronation to be part of our squad.

This spending made us finally go high at the season preview. Knowing that they can count on Union’s strength, they appointed us to be likely to finish a solid 3rd this season.

August 2024


We kickstarted the season with an awful display at the Pokal, in which our subs narrowly beat a non-league side. After that, we had an expected defeat to City at the UEFA Supercup, but lost only at extra-time. In the Bundesliga, a 100% start.

September 2024


After losing our invincibility to Wolfsburg, we fared against Beşiktaş for the first game in the UCL. After a very tight match, we got away with a 1-0 lead. At the other game of the group, Man Utd beat PSV for the same scoreline in Eindhoven. The rest of the month saw us grabbing some more wins.

October 2024


Thomas Müller finally came alive at the second game in the UCL, being the man of the match in the 4-0 victory over PSV. Against United at the Old Trafford, a heartbreaking defeat after being winning 1-2 until the 83rd minute. This month we had some tough games in the Bundesliga, but managed to come away with some satisfying 5 points.

November 2024


Müller met his old club where he is a legend and scored the equalizer of the 1-1 tie. The star of the month, however, is Fernando Ovelar, desperately trying to show some brilliance after the signing of Ricardo Bye and Thomas Müller, who was on fire and scored all goals of a maiden 4-2 win over the Red Devils. Even though Müller got us a last-minute turnaround and Bye had his chance to score his 4 goals in a match against Leipzig, Ovelar’s feat was the most impressive. The end of the month, however, had two disappointing defeats.

December 2024


And in the end, the Beşiktaş game cost us dearly, making us miss out on the battle for the first place, as we could have edged out Man United at the head-to-head matches. The second place in the group gets much tougher challenges, and in this case, we were drawn to play FC Barcelona. Locally-wise, December was an awful month for us, dropping 5 achievable points in the last 2 games.

Partial Standings after 17 rounds


This time, Bayern is showing to be up to their own level. The four main contenders of the past season remain the same, but the orders have changed. Gladbach and Hertha are still in the fight, although the title will probably go to Bavaria this season.

Replies


@Jack if you look closely, there were a lot of moments in which we lost this title. Gutting, yet entertaining

@ScottT hope we can get past group stage this time

@TheLFCFan Edwho? Oh, sure, that clown
Very nice to see a story about the real club of Berlin. Like in real life you getting them were they deserve to be.
Special to see Frankfurt winning the title last year!
A fair distance off the leaders halfway through there. Bayern’s dominance is a tough one to break down once the steamroller keeps going too. UCL football would be a good achievement this year.
Looks likely that Bayern will claim the title with a dominant first half to the season, but it's ridiculously tight from 2nd-6th!

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