The Fallen Giants of Bavaria: TSV 1860 München

Introduction

A new game, a new save. However, after starting a generic and much easier (compared to last year) Barcelona save (my favorite team), and a Newcastle save (hard not to join the hype), I decided to truly sit down and do a proper Football Manger enthusiast save. And by proper Football Manager enthusiast save I mean one that makes you want to pull your hair out at times.

Now, a little about me first. When it comes to Football Manager, this is only my third year and I rarely played or understood the game my first year, so let’s say I’ve only been around for two and a half years. And I found out quickly that I do not enjoy typically long saves- i.e., non-league to legend saves and journeyman saves. These types of saves seem so monotonous and have so many hurdles to climb over; I often feel I can’t have fun until years later in the future. I usually try to do saves that are shorter but still provide a challenge such as rebuilds or taking mid table teams to the top of the table. These usually can take about 5 years but at least I have the resources of top-level clubs, instead of part time players, less than imaginative play styles/ tactics, and transfer budgets the size of my student loan debt.

This year, however, I will attempt to become a real Football Manager player in attempting and sticking with a longer save. For my own sanity, I picked a middle ground. Instead of being in a country with multiple non-leagues, I picked Germany which only has three leagues (the grind to the top won’t be as long). Though the journey won’t be as long, I picked a team with severe hurdles to jump through- an aging team that must rely on youngsters and a transfer budget of zero. Welcome to… The Fallen Giant of Bavaria.

Background

I will try to keep the history and background to a minimum, but I feel as though it’s important to understand the title and information later. TSV 1860 Munchen was founded in, yep you guessed it, 1860. Originally a physical fitness and gymnastics association, and even rumored to be a spot for revolutionaries to gather, a football department was only added later in 1899. After only 20 years, and not even in one of the most populated places in Germany, 1860 Munchen was challenging in the country’s upper leagues. How was that possible? A reason not too uncommon in the history of the world of football. 1860 Munchen was supported and sponsored by the Nazi regime at the time, being used as a propaganda machine in their travels to football games. There are many teams throughout Europe that saw prosperity thanks to dictators and authoritarians throughout the 20th century. Two prominent ones are Real Madrid and Bologna (and no I am not just saying that because I am a Barcelona fan).

Dictator and Spanish General, Francisco Franco Bahamonde, was a below average football fan for a Spainard. However, he saw an opportunity to use Real Madrid’s success in Europe as a way to make Spain look better after the civil war. Franco and his cronies would make threats to players and teams within the Spanish topflight to minimize competition Madrid would face, and large donations would go to the Los Blancos for the purchasing of players.

Now for the fallen giant part. The period of 1963-1967 saw excellent performances for the club, including winning the Bundesliga and becoming runners up. They would also become the German Cup Winners (and in 1942) and be runners-up in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Though they have not won a large amount, there are other reasons they should be considered fallen giants. In 2000, they would place fourth in the Bundesliga, losing to Leeds United in Champions League qualifying matches and advancing to the third round in the UEFA Cup. After being relegated in 2003-2004, the owners would decide to groundshare with fierce local rivals, Bayern Munich, at the Allianz Arena, only later to be caught up in a scandal with the owner’s son and bribery for contracts to build the stadium. After being relegated again, 1860 Munich experienced a severe financial crisis, resulting in selling to Bayern Munich their 50% share in the Allianz for only $11 million euros. They would continue to play in the Allianz until 2017 when their contract to lease the stadium was terminated by Bayern.

1860 Munchen was forced to play back at their old stadium, Grünwalder Stadion, which was built in 1911 and can only seat 15,000 people. For reference, in 1963-1964, when 1860 Munchen were beginning their climb to win the league, their average home attendance was just below 32,000 people. In 2005-2006, the year severe financial issues began, the average attendance was around 41,700 people. And just last year, after the COVID Pandemic which caused many problems for football clubs, the average attendance was only 8,266 people. For a club that previously won competitions, had the money to play in a stadium the size of the Allianz Arena, and the ability to attract players such as Abedi Pele, Davor Šuker, and Thomas Häßler at the end of their careers, they do not seem to be able to stay on their feet.

Grünwalder Stadion
A 33-year-old Davor Šuker poses during a media day for the upcoming 2002-2003 season. Šuker would appear 25 times in his time at 1860, only registering 5 goals and 5 assists

Initial Thoughts

A rich history such as 1860 Munchen’s provides important context to what you find when you start a game with them on Football Manager. Financially the club is insecure and has a transfer budget of $0. At first, I believed this to not be a problem. I can sell a few players (especially older ones) and build a transfer budget to get me a cheap wonder kid. In fact, their payroll budget is over $4.7 million so I should be good. Boy was I wrong. After digging deeper, the board will only allocate 10% of transfer profit back into the transfer budget. Now, I’m not too great at math but it does not seem like selling a player or two will be helpful. Additionally, the scouting budget is set to the lowest, or only scouting those in or around the third league in Germany. Now, I could move some of this around, but what’s the point of increasing my scouting budget with no transfer budget to buy players, or increasing my transfer budget if I cannot find better players?

So, transfers do not seem to be the best way to pull this team up quickly. Now, let’s look at what can be done tactically. As mentioned, I personally do not like lower league because I feel like I am limited tactically. I grew up watching Barcelona and La Liga so I generally like to play fluid, possession style systems that usually don’t bode well with players in lower divisions. I decided to keep my tactic simple. We are already predicted to finish 3rd in the league with two of our players in the media dream eleven. However, many of the players are still not of the caliber to play a system with a ton of instructions. In order to meet the qualities of the players I have and still use tactics I like, I settled for a 4-4-1-1 (shown below).

On the left, you can see the tactic is very simple. A balanced mentality that has standard directness and looks to hit early crosses to a Target Forward. In transition, the team will regroup instead of counter pressing, but we will still look for counters to are Target Forward and Shadow Striker.  And finally, since we are regrouping, I figured out of possession we should also drop off and defend in a low block- especially in a similar formation as a 4-4-2, one of the best low block defending formations. We won’t be playing against any star players so dropping off won’t feel as bad as it does in better leagues.

The individual tactics were much more difficult to determine. I personally like tactics that are mirrored. For example, a winger on the left and a winger on the right, as opposed to an inverted winger and a raumdeuter. I was limited in what I have and as stated, I can’t really go shopping. Lakenmacher is your typical Target Forward in a lower league- physical attributes to be able to go up for the ball and nothing much else. He is 22, however, and can improve. Additionally, I went with a Shadow Striker because Kobylanski is our best player (see below). He prefers to play as a Shadow Striker (a role I also enjoy using) and I hope he can make runs off of Lakenmacher from deep.

And finally, two other notable players from the start include the right Winger Vrenezi and the No-nonsense Center Back Morgalla (both below). Vrenezi (along with Kobylanski) is in the media dream eleven and is an experienced winger at the age of 28. He has the speed to run down the wing and has the technical ability to make crosses or take defenders on. However, he lacks in decision making. Morgalla is the most expensive player in the team in terms of value. Only at the age of 17, he can play Right Back and Center Back, but in my opinion lacks the technicality needed to be on the ball at Right Back or even as a Ball Playing Defender. I am hoping in time he will become more technical as we go up so that I can adapt to a more fluid and attacking system.

My goal for the save revolves around one team: Bayern Munich. As our fierce rivals, I want to dethrone them from the top of the Bundesliga. (And I don’t know if it is even possible but buying the Allianz Arena back would be nice as well). As we are predicted 3rd this season, I hope we can go up to address financial problems right away. After we can solve these problems, I can truly scout for wonderkids and grow the club as a whole, including a new stadium and a stronger youth system. I hope you stick around and see where we end up. Now, it’s off to preseason!

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