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"It's Kind Of Like The Marshall Plan.." - The 1.FC Dynamo Dresden Story


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It was time for a fresh start, as much because of what I felt as because of what my PC demanded, so, it's off to Germany for a tale of football from Saxony.

This one may start a little slow, but I do feel like it's got legs, so sit back, relax, and let me say now, thanks for reading.

As always, questions are welcomed.

Leagues Being Run:

Argentina (Premier Division Only)

Belgium (First Division Only)

Brazil (First Division Only)

Denmark (Premier Divison Only)

England (Third Division and Above)

France (Second League and Above)

Germany (Regional Division and Above)

Greece (National A Division Only)

Holland (First Division and Above)

Italy (Serie C1 and Above)

Japan (J-League 1 Only)

Mexico (First Division Only)

Poland (First Division Only)

Portugal (Superleague Only)

Russia (Premier Division Only)

Serbia & Montenegro (First Division Only)

Spain (Second Division and Above)

Turkey (Premier Division Only)

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It was time for a fresh start, as much because of what I felt as because of what my PC demanded, so, it's off to Germany for a tale of football from Saxony.

This one may start a little slow, but I do feel like it's got legs, so sit back, relax, and let me say now, thanks for reading.

As always, questions are welcomed.

Leagues Being Run:

Argentina (Premier Division Only)

Belgium (First Division Only)

Brazil (First Division Only)

Denmark (Premier Divison Only)

England (Third Division and Above)

France (Second League and Above)

Germany (Regional Division and Above)

Greece (National A Division Only)

Holland (First Division and Above)

Italy (Serie C1 and Above)

Japan (J-League 1 Only)

Mexico (First Division Only)

Poland (First Division Only)

Portugal (Superleague Only)

Russia (Premier Division Only)

Serbia & Montenegro (First Division Only)

Spain (Second Division and Above)

Turkey (Premier Division Only)

Sound like enough? icon_biggrin.gif

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June 29th, 2003

There’s a small city in the east of Germany. Okay, it’s not really small, but, lying on the bank of the River Elbe, two hours south of Berlin and two hours north of Prague, home to over a million people, there is the city of Dresden. Elected Europe’s greenest city in 2002, Dresden is a beautiful city, home to all sorts of beautiful architectural styles and a booming modern commerce sector, and some wonderful weather.

Inside of Dresden, there is a stadium that holds 30,000 people, 10,521 seated. That stadium is the home of 1.FC Dynamo Dresden, the city’s team. A regionally-known side, Dynamo Dresden have just won promotion from the North East-South division to the German Regional Division North. However, in the process of getting this promotion, Dresden lost their Manager to more marketable, profitable clubs. However, Germany already having a good relationship with U.S. Football (see Landon Donovan, Anthony Sanneh, Clint Mathis) Dresden opted to gamble, and accepted my application as manager. It’s a move met with a little chuckling in the local media, but not much shock, not that I’m surprised.

I’m lucky that many of the people here have a rudimentary understanding of English, as I’m taking a crash course in German from the moment I get off the plane in Berlin. The drive south is wonderful, and, as we come upon the stadium, I can’t help but give a quick smile.

A Aerial View Of Rudolf Harbig Stadion

Another View

One Last Shot

“Herr Flanagan.â€

I’m greeted as I enter the club’s official offices by a youngish looking man, only a little over 40. His name is Egon Putzi, and he’ll be my new right-hand man, my Assistant Manager here at Dresden We exchange pleasantries, and he escorts me around the ground and offices, telling me some of the club’s history and beginning to get me acclimated to my new team. Our tour ends in the boardroom, where Jochen Rudi, the Chairman greets me warmly.

Over a few drinks, he gives me a bit of an introduction to the city and explains the business side of the team to me, before outlining this season’s needs. While we’re thankfully under our wage budget limits, we don’t have much to spend on transfers, only around $150K. Herr Rudi would love for us to stay up however, and says my only expectation this year is to secure a respectable position around mid-table, and after that, who knows? All he wants from me is to concentrate on the now.

Thankfully, he speaks enough English for us to hold something akin to a real conversation, rather than hearing me stumble through “Beginner’s Germanâ€. However, I can see a real determination in his eyes to make something of this team somewhere along the line, and that I can respect. With a final drink and a toast, I’m off to greet my new secretary. Tomorrow I meet the team, and get life in Dresden under way.

June 30th, 2003

It’s of no surprise to anyone that follows the sport that Brazilian side Santos’ striker Robinho has gathered quite a European following. That following includes Newcastle, Celta, Real Betis, Lyon, Manchester United, and, most recently, Valencia, as teams begin to queue up to try and pry the in-form striker away from the big Brazilian team.

July 1st, 2003

First order of business is clearing out much of the backroom staff, replacing them with my own personal choices. Nothing against the men who were here before mind you, but there’s a certain level of comfort you’d like to have among your own staff, people that you have an understanding with. So today I’m greeting Ralf Santelli and Andreas Wessels as two new coaches on my staff, and greeting Simon Rog and Ian John as two new scouts. More than anything, I’m happy with how positive they all are about the new season.

July 2nd, 2003

I’m surprised, as I view the team as a whole in practice today, that our team is so very small. With only 20 players in the first team and very few more coming through the system in the future, the situation isn’t insomuch dire, but it does require attention sooner rather than later. We do need some extra talent to bolster the team, and in that regard, as practice winds down today I’m hitting the phones hard, as, after having brought on four new scouts in the past two days, I’m sending out people to scout everywhere for new blood from all nations. I know a lot of the locals expect a team like this to be all-German, but I’d like to win, rather than sit around and wait for the next Jurgen Klinsmann.

By the evening, I’ve already pulled off two real coups. Not that I’ve signed Zinedine Zidane, no, but I’ve given our team some real recognition for youngsters by getting English legend Tony Adams and ex-Player of the Year George Weah to sign contracts as coaches here at Dresden. It’s huge for me as well as for the team, as I can’t wait to take advantage of the years of experience these two men surely have, and put them to good use.

Before I even walk out of my office, I’m talking to the representatives of Khaled Boulanine, an Algerian Defender, already capped for the Algerian Under-21 side but not yet signed to a team. He is very interested in coming and getting a job playing somewhere, and since we’re the first to contact him this summer, he’s anxious to find a home before the season starts. I let him know that he’ll be absolutely welcome in Dresden, and, before I go home that night, we’re talking terms. By the morning, he’s on the next plane for Germany.

Khaled Boulanine (20 y/o, ALG, D LC)

July 3rd, 2003

Friendly – 1.FC Dynamo Dresden vs. FC Bayern Under-19s

I’m happy that the board has already gone out of their way to give our preseason a shine of the special. Three big teams will be sending their youth talent to the Harbig Stadion this summer, first Bayern, then Real Madrid (no really!) and then Chelsea will all be sending their reserves and youth teams to take on our first-teamers. It’s not insomuch supposed to be a test for our team, more a chance for me to watch the players go about their action, and to reap some early money from our fans who’ll surely hear “Real Madrid†and stare unbelieving at the program and come to the games. So, it’s even more of a surprise to those who show up and to our fans when Oliver Kahn, Mehmet Scholl, Jens Jeremies, Thomas Linke and more line up. Apparently, Bayern’s not going to throw away a chance to get their stars legs prepared for the new season. Needless to say, they absolutely crush us. We don’t even manage a single shot, but Bayern is kind enough not to embarrass us.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 0:1 FC Bayern Under-19s

July 6th, 2003

An American fetches a hefty sum today, as DaMarcus Beasley is apparently worth $9.5M to Racing Santander to pry the promising left-winger away from PSV Eindhoven. This move in and of itself isn’t of much interest to me, but I am very interested in more “patriotic†things, so I tell my secretary to note that I’d like to put DaMarcus on my shortlist. I know I have no chance of signing him now, but that’s not the point. I’d just like to keep tabs on him for a while and see how he pans out. And maybe, one day in the future, I’ll have $9.5M to spend.

Meanwhile, the German FA does the draw for the First Round of the German Cup today, and I’m not enthused at our match. We’ll be facing the powerhouse that is Borussia Dortmund in the first round, a team that’s had a habit of success in recent years, and supposedly may give FC Bayern a run for the title this year. While hope does spring eternal, I don’t think anyone on the team is expecting us to pull off and upset here, but, you never know.

Friendly – Dynamo Dresden vs. Chelsea Reserves

It’s only a matter of time until Chelsea adds one of the game’s biggest names to their squad list, and the good money has it on Nicolas Anelka, who certainly won’t shirk the chance at silverware with Chelsea. However, with names like Filipe Oliveira and Valerio Di Cesare lining up against us today, we’ve got nothing really to worry about. 578 people show up to see us show some improvement in our play and a little more life at the front, but the result is still the same as before.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 0:1 Chelsea Reserves

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July 7th, 2003

The German FA has no real restrictions of note on Loans that I can take out in a season, so I’d like to bolster our squad in a way that doesn’t require a penny. So I’m calling every single top-division team I think might have useful players in their reserves. Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Ajax, Dortmund, I do mean all of them. And the first team (and player) to come through is Dutch powerhouses Feyenoord, who clear Forward Duna N’Kunku to come south and get some first-team experience under his belt. They player himself isn’t thrilled about the move, but apparently he’s so desperate for first-team experience that this will have to do.

Duna N’Kunku (20 y/o, NED, F C)

The whirlwind that is the European transfer market finally kicks into action today, as Argentine Ariel Ortega returns to Spain today, a $7.75M move that sends him from Fenerbahçe to Deportivo la Coruña. Meanwhile, to the east, Jérôme Rothen leaves the principality of Monaco for the promise of Olympique Marseille where the number of good balls played to Drogba and Mido surely will improve greatly with his addition.

July 9th, 2003

“Sir?†My secretary peeks into my office. “There’s a call for you on Line 2. A Mr. van Marwijk?â€

I raise a confused eyebrow, but pick up the phone nevertheless.â€

“Mr. Flanagan?†A brusque voice on the other end greets me.


“This is Bert van Marwijk, from Feyenoord. I hear you’re looking for a few Loans this year. Well, I have a number of players that would like to go abroad and get some experience under their belt.â€

We talk for a few minutes, and he eventually reveals that he’s got four other players he’d like to send to Dresden on Loan for the season. I’d be thrilled to take them, the only problem being that German Regional Division rules state that any match must have at least 6 German Under-24 players and two German Under-21s. This means at least half of my match squad is going to be filled with youth, but, those other five slots certainly aren’t closed either.

It takes a little while, but we eventually hash out a deal that sends Wouter Artz, Michael Brown, Dion Dickhoff and Sigourney Bandjar south, and puts a smile on my face.

Wouter Artz (18 y/o, NED, SW/D/DM C)

Michael Brown (18 y/o, AUS, AM C)

Dion Dickhoff (17 y/o, NED, SW/D RLC)

Sigourney Bandjar (19 y.o, NED, AMC)

July 10th, 2003

Friendly – Dynamo Dresden vs. Real Madrid “Bâ€

This is the match I’m most thrilled to say we landed. Even against their reserves, it’s still a game against one of the biggest clubs in the world, and our fans turn out to see the people who may be the next big thing in Spain come and play. Of course, as usual, it’s a slightly lopsided affair, but I’m happy to say that the boys play with a great deal of heart, even for a meaningless friendly, for which I give them due congratulation when the match is over.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 0:2 Real Madrid “Bâ€

July 13th, 2003

Liverpool grab one of the more hotly desired prospects in the game today, latching onto Ranger’s Mikael Arteta, taking the promising Spaniard south from Glasgow for a mere $5.75M fee. It is, of course, a statement of intent from Liverpool. If Arteta forms a strong partnership in midfield with Steven Gerrard, the possibilities for more silverware at Merseyside go up a great deal.

July 15th, 2003

Another Loan in today, this one from PSV Eindhoven, as it seems the only players that want to go out on Loan are from the Netherlands. Thankfully, this one isn’t a bad prospect. Tim Janssen is only 17, but he’s got clinical finishing ability, and has the potential to be one of the next big things from Holland if things go his way. PSV wants him to get some time playing against Pros however, and since there’s no space in their attacking line, we’ll take up the slack.

Tim Janssen (17 y/o, NED, S C)

July 17th, 2003

Friendly – SV Babelsberg 03 vs. 1.FC Dynamo Dresden

An away friendly for the boys to tackle today, and I’m partially happy to see Tim Janssen prove he’s got chops, scoring twice before the 30 minute mark, the first a fine run-and-shoot that dribbles past Babelsberg’s goalkeeper, the second an excellent volley from the corner of the goalbox that rips into the lefthand corner of the net. I’m glad Janssen is working out, but less happy that so far, he’s the only member of our attack that’s showing any real punch and power, which is a concern. Even worse, Babelsberg manage two late garbage goals, as our substitutes give up a two-goal lead in 5 minutes. Not good.

Final Score – Babelsberg 2:2 Dynamo Dresden

July 18th, 2003

Three moves are wrapped up today, the highest-profile one being Lilian Thuram giving up life at Juventus for the Riazor and a season at Deportivo la Coruña. This move being worth $9.75M and Deportivo having spent $17.5M on transfers already this year, it goes without saying that they’re going to be one of many teams trying to topple Real Madrid. A third place finish last year only leaves room for a runner-up spot or winning it all as far as improvement goes.

Spain is also involved in the other two transfers, with Real Zaragoza buying Cameroonian international Lauren from Arsenal for $9.5M. Meanwhile, Espanyol has taken Mista from Valencia for $8M.

I’ve only heard about the moves here through international websites like Soccernet.com. The transfer market in Germany has been very slow so far, with the biggest moves standing as Wolfsburg sending Slovakian midfielder Miroslav Karhan to Villareal for $1.8M and Werder Bremen buying Bobby Convey from the MLS. Personally, I’m jealous. I’ve heard about Convey, and I believe the press. He ought to pan out very well in Germany.

July 20th, 2003

Friendly – Lichtenberg vs. Dynamo Dresden

I’m glad this one wasn’t at home, because the home fans would’ve been absolutely livid about the lackadaisical way we walk through today’s friendly. Perhaps the players are spoiled after playing some of the cream of Europe, but the two we give up today are soft goals by anyone’s standards, and our play is sloppy, at best. Only 52% of our passes find their way to the right feet, but it doesn’t matter in the end. On the bus afterwards, I make it perfectly clear to every member of the squad that this kind of attitude won’t be tolerated again.

Final Score – Lichtenberg 2:0 Dynamo Dresden

July 25th, 2003

I’m interested in the potential services of one Thomas Richter, a 32-year old Center Defender that would give us some good, experienced legs at the back. Currently playing for amateur side SC 04 Schwabach, he’d be a help immediately, and the $2K price tag that Schwabach’s asking for him is nothing to be sneezed at. But, still, there’s the issue of his potential use to a club that really cannot afford to be signing one-year shots and then letting people go. My coaches aren’t enamored with his apparent lack of speed or agility, but he does have the defensive nous to stick to his man like glue. We place the bid.

Meanwhile, in much higher-stakes transfers, Real Sociedad splurge $15.5M on Fenerbaçe’s star forward Sanli Tuncay. Meanwhile, Atlétìco Madrid pick up Nwankwo Kanu from Arsenal for $9.25M, where the Nigerian international can hopefully find a home.

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July 26th, 2003

I’m disappointed to read about the U.S.’s sad end to their Gold Cup campaign this year, as they lose in the final to a superior Costa Rica side 2-0. It’s a disappointing end to a perfectly good run in the cup for the U.S., but they simply cannot put together a strong enough defense or attack against Costa Rica, and it costs them, as the Latin American side simply cut a swath through their defense time and time again this day, never giving the Americans the time to try and put together a real defense or offense.

Friendly – FSV Zwickau vs. Dynamo Dresden

Our last friendly of the year, and it’s a much more intense affair than our previous get-togethers with teams. With the start of formal season play just around the corner, and the knowledge that I will soon be putting together my final squad list for the season, the players are really aiming to impress. To be perfectly honest, their trying to impress, and not aiming at the net, a fact that becomes wholly apparent as stylish shot after shot flies wide or above the net. Our savior is once again Tim Janssen, who side-foots home the equalizer on 64 minutes to spare us our blushes. Despite outshooting our opponents 7-1, we only walk away with a draw, a finish to the preseason that isn’t very promising.

Final Score – FSV Zwickau 1:1 Dynamo Dresden

July 29th, 2003

I’m scanning my squad today, beginning to put together what we’re going to need for the upcoming campaign. It’s not easy in the slightest to piece together a squad given the German FA’s rules for the Regional Division, requiring the numbers of German Under-24s and Under-21s in the match squad. To be perfectly honest, it’s quite difficult, but I can see how it most certainly randomizes the league campaign a bit. A team has to rely on their youth ranks to propel them to the Second Division where they will have the freedom to start whoever they well please.

But, since I can’t go around buying the best Under-24s and Under-21s around, I’m making do in the meantime. So today, we announce the signing of Schwabach’s Thomas Richter for $4K. He’ll spend his time here acting as a stopgap for the bleeding wound that is our center defense, until we can finally find someone who can really shut opposing strikers down to take the role.

August 1st, 2003

And it begins. Tonight marks the beginning of the German Regional Division North’s season, with two matches kicking off the festivities. We don’t play until the 3rd, but, in consulting my coaching staff, I’m ready to announce to my players who has made the cut and who will be on the outside looking in this year. As follows, are the 2003/04 1.FC Dynamo Dresden First Team…


GK: Ignjac Kresic (36 y/o, CRO, GK): The eldest player on the team, this will be Ignjac’s 5th season with Dynamo Dresden, and he’s been the No. 1 ever since his arrival. That said, it’s slowly becoming apparent that Ignjac’s best years are behind him now and that we need to look towards a new keeper. This is all, of course, things I have planned down the road. Ignjac still makes good enough decisions and is the kind of general in the box that you want to have around. Given the current prospects, Ignjac may be around until he decides to retire himself.

DR: Torsten Bittermann (35 y/o, GER, D R): Another aged player in our back line, Torsten is our team captain, a fan favorite, and looking forward to his second season with Dresden. There won’t be much more after that however, if only because simple father time will not be as kind to Torsten as it might be to Ignjac. He’ll still keep up, and he’s got the kind of drive and grit that you really look for in a defender, but the looming question is for how much longer? Long enough I’m hoping.

DL: Dexter Langen (22 y/o, GER, D/DM L): Dexter’s going to drive me insane this year, I absolutely know it. One of our young bucks, he’s got a good, well-rounded game, and was most impressive in the preseason. But the kid is notorious among my coaching staff for not necessarily being down with putting in 100% every time, all the time. Factor in that he can be overwhelmed by too much of a radical shift in formation… but he’s got speed to waste, tons of it, and a cross that’s beyond his years. I’m generally a stickler for guys who put in 90 minutes, but if he’s willing to give me the right 70, I’ll take it.

DC: Dion Dickhoff (17 y/o, NED, SW/D RLC): We’re weak at the center of defense, so the nod goes to Dion Dickhoff, on Loan for the year from Feyenoord (one of 5 from the club, totaling seven players on Loan from clubs in the Eredivise). This is a huge risk, I know, starting a 17-year old, not even really out of the youth ranks in the center of our defense, but he’s had our coaches raving about his current ability and how he can help the squad so, he’s got the job. We needed a fix, and, hopefully, he’s it.

DC: Volker Oppitz (25 y/o, GER, D C): He may not earn much compared to the Ayalas and Ferdinands in the world’s defenses, but he’s worth every penny to us. Only 25, and blessed with ability, he can keep up with strikers, mark them, keep them under wraps, and will win as many headers as you need him to with his skill and great strength. He’s got good instincts on the ball, and I’m hoping he’ll show the consistency we need in the center of defense this year. By far, our best player at the back.

MR: Ronny Scholze (22 y/o, GER, AM/F R): Ronny’s by far, not the fastest thing ever to roam the right side of the field in Germany, but for our needs, he’ll do well enough. Good at many things without excelling in any, he’s the kind of player who, at this level, will make a reasonable enough name for himself without necessarily attracting the attentions of bigger clubs with much more money to spend. If he can give me 30 solid games this year, I’ll be happy.

ML: Nico Däbritz (31 y/o, GER, DM RL): Probably my least thrilling decision, and mainly because his skills in attack aren’t what the average coach might want. But his skills are the most rounded of everyone’s so he takes the position. On the whole however, his playing of the left flank simply underlines my disappointment with our speed down the flanks this season, and whether we’ll be able to really, really stretch teams on the counter-attack. His crosses are adequate enough though, so, here’s hoping.

MC: Maik Wagefeld (22 y/o, GER, DM C): If it wasn’t for Torsten, Maik is more than enough of a presence on the pitch to be our team captain. Despite that, Maik’s got all the skills you’d want a good DM to have. He tackles, he can distribute the ball well, and I’m hoping his anticipatory abilities will do nothing but frustrate those who line up opposite him this year. I don’t know how much of a future he has, that’s still murky, but his present is looking entirely good.

MC: Steffen Heidrich (36 y/o, GER, AM C): I’m least happy about Steffen starting. Not because he’s not good, but because he’s 36. To say that I’ll be gently pushing him towards retirement is an understatement. The heirs to his throne aren’t quite there though, not yet. But I don’t think I can rely on a man who turns 37 next year to give another full year of time before time itself catches up with him.

FC: Thomas Neubert (22 y/o, GER, S C): The biggest, best prospect on the team, our hopes for the new season are pinned on Thomas. He’s all speed, and has a remarkable knack for creating goals from the front. But he needs to improve on his finishing, as a good striker can’t be worrying about getting the assist every time he enters the goalbox. After a 8 goal haul in 30 games last year, I’m expecting some real improvements.

FC: Tim Janssen (17 y/o, NED, S C): Picking up Tim has been the highlight of our preseason so far. He loves to score, and does it for fun, quite literally. With speed to burn, and the overwhelming competitive desire to show him club, PSV Eindhoven that he’s worth keeping, I’m expecting more from him than from anyone else this year. After his fine showing in the preseason this year, I’ve already got some of our fans clamoring that we begin talks with PSV about possibly picking him up and making him a full-time Dresden player, to which I say we need to wait, and see how this season turns out.


Oliver Herber (21 y/o, GER, GK): The backup in case of emergency, Oliver’s not exactly what I would call a good insurance plan, but, he’s there, and he’s affable enough that he can understand that, for now, he is second fiddle, and knows that a 36-year old man between the sticks bodes well for his future chances. All of this said, he’s got great agility. If he can get the reflexes to match, he might compete for the job.

Wouter Artz (18 y/o, NED, SW/D/DM C): One of our horde of Loans from Feyenoord, Wouter is, to our standards, quite a promising prospect. He may not make the cut at Feyenoord, and if he doesn’t we’d be happy to give him a home. His passing is second to none, and his tackling has the kind of edge that, while clean, lets opposition know he means business. If he can get a little better at going the full 90, we’ll be returning quite a good player back to the Netherlands.

Tom Hoffmann (21 y/o, GER, D R): Should Torsten go down, Tom is one of our backup plans. Not spectacular, but he knows his way around the pitch pretty well at this point, and has remarkably good positioning instincts for someone his age. If he can couple that with some other developments, he’ll be fine, but, like much of my First Team, he’s here because he fits the age requirements and we need to stay in the good graces of those.

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Sven Johne (19 y/o, GER, M RC): My coaches are enticed about this kid, and all have reccomended that he get some reps in the first team to help develop his talent and let him grow into the player he has the chance to be. I’m less impressed with him myself, being that he has no excellent skills of merit at this time. That said, in a year, things could change. For now, he’s here to make sure I have a number of Under-21s on hand at all times.

Rico Kühne (21 y/o, GER, M R): Young, and still by far my second choice at the right of midfield should anything happen to Herr Scholze, if only because noone else on the team is honestly capable of playing the right of midfield with a great deal of ability. So Rico’s our fallback plan, and, despite inefficient passing, I expect his reasonable speed and crosses to come in handy when we need him.

Alexander Kuhnert (19 y/o, GER, M C): Nice kid, just won’t make the cut as a pro, of that I feel certain. I’m sure he’ll help some other team somewhere, but for us, once I have the wherewithal to release him, his name will be cut from the squad. As with Sven Johne, currently only on the team to keep up with the Under-24/21s rule.

Ranisav Jovanovic (22 y/o, SCG, AM/F L): Ranisav made the decision as to who plays the left side of the field quite difficult for me, if only because Ranisav is good enough to start. The problem being, he doesn’t really shine in any category, but he’s not bad at what he needs to be skilled at. If he improves, this particular Serb could worm his way into 10-20 matches this year and create some real controversy as to who should be starting on the left side of the field.

Daniel Ziebig (20 y/o, GER, AM/F L): Not nearly as fast as the other two men playing the left flank, Daniel has the best crosses of the lot, able to find a striker in the box whenever he so needs. The problem being, Daniel has a lot of trouble getting in those crosses when pressured by defense, and we can’t rely on someone who is only going to deliver under the best of circumstances. If he can improve his dribbling significantly, he’ll be the kind of player I want on the left.

Michael Brown (19 y/o, AUS, AM C): On Loan and Transfer Listed by Feyenoord, Michael’s showing up in Dresden with a bag full of tricks and an almost crazed desire for the ball. He may not necessarily be sprinting up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, but when he goes for the ball, he’s going all-out, which is redeeming. I’d like to teach him a bit about playing the flanks, to capitalize on his highly developed crossing ability, but there’s always the chance that someone might steal him away from me before the season’s over, so caution, of course.

Christian Frölich (25 y/o, GER, AM C): A fringe player at best, Christian represents the “Semi†in our title as a “Semi-Professional†team. He’ll run for 90 minutes, but whether he’ll get anything of use done while he runs is rather touch and go, but the potential is there, I’ll just have to watch and see how far he can go. These are the prime years of his life he’s entering, and if this is it, he’s going to need to find a new home.

Sebastian Hartung (22 y/o, GER, F C): Some potential here, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I don’t know if Sebastian has the kind of ability I want. I’m not looking for “Zidanes y Rauls†here, but some skill is necessary. I’d like to deliver to the board what they asked, and a little more, and his abilities just aren’t as rounded as we’d like.

Dona N’Kunku (20 y/o, NED, S C): Another Loan from Feyenoord, Dona seems like he’ll go one of two ways. He’ll either be a super-sub and be a game-changing force off the bench, or he’ll be nothing more than a waste of a Loan, and fade into the background here. He’s got all the youthful creativity of some of the stars, but there’s a lot more to his game that he needs to put together to make it all work. My coaches want me to try and sign him, but I’m going to wait 20 games and see how I feel then.

Meanwhile, in Spain, Steed Malbranque moves to Real Madrid today for $7.5M from Fulham, a move that may not be the biggest thing since sliced bread, but will do a lot for Madrid as far as depth in midfield goes.

August 3rd, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 1: Dynamo Dresden vs. St. Pauli

Our first game of the year, my first game in charge. My stomach’s doing flips as I gather the players in the dressing room before the game for a quick team-talk. My words aren’t Thoreau, but I do hope they’ll get the point across.

“This is game one. Game one. That means we’ve got 33 more to play after today. Counting today there are up to 132 points to win. We’re not going to win them all, noone is. But we’re going to work, claw and scratch for every single one of them, and we’re going to make it hell for our opponents to take them from us. It’s a new division for this club, a fresh start, and that means we’re the unkown factor here. Let’s go show them all that we should not and cannot be taken for granted.â€

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Bitterman; Däbritz, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Neubert

St. Pauli (4-4-2): Hollerieth; Gibbs, Gunesch, Stanislawski, Nascimento; Moheit, Hupkes, Mayer, Ludwig; Nwosu, Agu

Even thought there are only 4,000 here, for a first-time manager like me, it’s almost like being at the Nou Camp. I know I’ve never been infront of a crowd that big, and I’m just hoping that we’ll put on a good show as the game kicks off. And to our credit, we do. We start positively, and monopolize the ball for much of the first half, although some problems with overworking see us only manage a single paltry show on net before 30 minutes is gone. But we deserve a goal, and on 38 minutes, we get it, Hollerieth punching away a cross into the box, only to see Scholze pick it up at the top of the penalty area, turn, and hammer it with his left foot. Hollerieth would’ve had it covered it seemed, but Stanislawski ends up deflecting the ball just enough for it to evade Hollerieth’s despairing attempt at a save, as the ball coasts into the back of the net. I’m beaming as the players celebrate. I’ll remember this goal for a long time, it’s my first in charge of a club.

St. Pauli aren’t lax, and Nascimento shaves the post with a 25-yarder just before the whistle for the half blows. With the restart, they come close once more, Moheit just firing wide from a freekick on 58 minutes. But we’re not without our chances, and on 62 minutes, Heidrich gives us one to really be proud of, taking a pass from Janssen after the striker dawdles to the left of the box for a moment, and, finding himself in space, tees up a 25-yard piledriver that scorches past Hollerieth and into the net. 2-0!

Minutes later, I’m less than happy to see Dickhoff being helped off by our physios, apparently having done some serious damage to his leg after an unfortunate challenge with Gunesch. With Dickhoff, who had been playing very well, out of the lineup, St. Pauli begins to press and the game really begins to open up, with both sides squandering gilt-edged opportunities at both ends of the pitch. It would seem Lady Luck favors St. Pauli however, Moheit, who had been torturing us all day with his freekicks, unleashing one from 22 yards or so that Kresic can only palm away, only he palms it into the path of Gunesch, who taps it home from five yards out.

Our fans finish the match with their hearts in their throats, but when it’s all said and done, it’s one down, 33 to go for Dresden, and my journey has truly begun.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 2:1 St. Pauli

MoM – Ralph Gunesch

After the game, I take a seat in my office and replay the day in my head. It’s a good start to the year, not great, but good. The problems are there, our defense seems too apt to making stupid fouls in prime freekick area, which will bite us in the behind eventually. And then there’s Dion Dickhoff, who, after one fine game at the back, injured his hip somehow apparently, and will be out for two months recuperating. But, three points are three points, and I really cannot underline how nice it is to know that the team has until Friday to rest, and then we hit our once-a-week schedule that I’m enthralled with. 34 games in a season, playing once a week, with a Winter Break in the middle? I couldn’t be happier, because it means less fatigue to my players.

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August 7th, 2003

Like a black hole, Real Madrid continue to gather talent. Today they announce that they’ll be completing a triumvirate of famous Brazilian players, as they announce the $7.75M signing of Rivaldo from AC Milan. Couple this with $6M move to Madrid of Danish star Jan Kristiansen from Esbjerg fB and the midfield in the Spanish capital is getting very, very crowded. Already, there are questions flying around as to the potential futures of Figo, Zidane and Beckham, and whether another big move could be in the offing before the August 31st transfer deadline rolls around.

FC Augsburg are apparently in a bidding mood today, and are looking to pry Lars Heller off my hands. Lars is one of my excess defenders, currently on the Dynamo Dresden 2nd team, and the $22K that Augsburg are offering is nice but, they’re offering Jorgen Bode in return, a 30-year old Defensive Midfielder who has seen better days. I don’t need any new blood right now, at least, not that I’m going to be paying the contract of, but I like the deal. My response? $2K up front, with another $18K over the next 12 months. Moreover, we get 40% of Lars’s next sale fee.

August 8th, 2003

Finally, after weeks of hemming, hawing and renegotiation, we finish hammering out a $4K deal today for Schwabach’s Thomas Richter. Richter’s working a $10K per year contract, and has indicated that he is perfectly fine with playing an off-the-bench position on the team. Being 32, he’s a quick fix in case of emergency, and will see very limited action. However, we needed a quick fix.

Thomas Richter (32 y/o, GER, D C)

German Regional Division North – Game 2: Dynamo Dresden vs. Hamburger SV (A)

Probably, the most odd part about playing in the Regional Division is that we’ll be taking on the Amateur sides of bigger, First Division clubs like Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund and today’s opponent, Hamburger SV, not to mention the Under-23 sides of Schalke 04 and 1.FC Köln. All of this said however, while we may have had trouble in the preseason against the Reserve squads of bigger clubs, I think we’ll fare better against this competition.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Däbritz, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Neubert

HSV (3-4-1-2): Frech; Sammer, Grote, Preuß; Schmidt, Frölich, Manthey, Hanke; Groth; Baith, Mamoum

While the HSV name may be there, the understanding that these are their reserve players at the very least emboldens our players some. They’re attacking as I’ve instructed, and are really putting in the hard graft to make life hell for HSV all over the pitch. For the first time this year, I think I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re outplaying a team from the outset, and we thoroughly deserve our award on 8 minutes when Heidrich’s header evades Groth and falls right into the path of Neubert, who neatly slots the ball past Frech from 10 yards to give us the early lead. He’s happy to double his tally on 39 minutes, as HSV is unable to stop Janssen’s screaming run into the box from the flank, and are left to look on in dismay as his shot is well-saved by Frech, only for Neubert to pounce first on the rebound, netting number two.

We’re in cruise control by the end of the third half, and HSV is looking ragged, at best, a sad statement for their reserves, if anything. But that’s not the point, what is is the game becoming a bit chippy as things go on, with Wagefeld and Baith both notching Yellow Cards within minutes of each other after the reseat for some “overzealous†play. Leave it to substitute Sebastian Hartung to get minds back on the game, a longball breakaway allowing him to just reach the ball before Frech, poking it under the ‘keeper’s diving body to notch our third. One professional foul from Hanke and a Scholze penalty later, we’re walking off the pitch with a smile, and three more points.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:0 Hamburger SV (A)

MoM – Thomas Neubert

After the game, I’m called into the Chairman’s office for a happy bit of congratulations. Admittedly, it’s only been two games, but Herr Rudi says he likes what he is seeing from our team so far. I’m glad to hear it, but we’ve got a really good test coming away against Braunschweig. Winning at home is one thing, but winning on the road really is where a team tells its quality.

August 12th, 2003

Well, you sign that many players, someone’s got to leave.

Still, everyone’s aghast when Real Madrid announces the sale of “Zizou†himself, Zinedine Zidane today, to Inter Milan for a mere (considering his worth) $24M. Real Madrid are apparently really banking on the combined ability of Rivaldo and Steed Malbranque to replace the French legend, a move that most analysts are underlining as entirely idotic already. On the upside of all that, Inter Milan have just vaulted themselves into the Serie A chase, the addition of Zidane gives them an absolute midfield maestro who can change the game with a flick of his foot. A smart, smart buy.

August 13th, 2003

Claudio Pizarro has spent four fine seasons in Germany, and had started this one off in fine form, scoring twice in three substitute appearances for FC Bayern. But, it’s hard to resist when the money of Chelsea comes calling, which they do today, announcing Pizarro’s signing for $22.5M from the German giants. With the chase for Nicolas Anelka apparently leaning heavily in favor of Manchester United and Barcelona, Chelsea make something out of nothing here, picking up a scorer who should fare well in the English game.

Meanwhile, apparently teams are already having their eyebrows raised by the play of Maik Wagefeld, who certainly has been doing well in the two games we’ve played this year. It’s early, but I’m still a bit surprised to have my secretary announce to me today that Second Division side VfL Osnabrück have left a message for me, asking exactly how much it would take to pry Wagefeld away from Dresden. Given how early in the season it is, and how I really don’t have the reserves to fill in for his loss right now, I set the bar high. $100K and a 50% of Next Sale clause.

August 15th, 2003

Rafa Benitez and Valencia aren’t going to let Real leave them in the dust apparently, and make their own move today, picking up French striker Djibril Cissé from Auxerre today, a $15.25M move laden with potential for the French International. Given that he can get his form into good shape in the cauldron of Primera Liga football, he could aid Valencia in a real title chase with Madrid.

Meanwhile, the Nicolas Anelka saga ends as everyone suggested it would, with the striker leaving for Manchester United, a move worth $21M to Manchester City, and bringing what hopefully will be the extra striker he needs to Manchester for Fergie. Surely, his ability is undeniable, but whether Fergie can form him into a strike-team par excellence with Ruud is up in the air. If he does, Manchester are being tipped to win in a landslide.

August 17th, 2003

German Regional Division North – TSV Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Dynamo Dresden

A beautiful Sunday afternoon for a game of Football, as we play for what I hope will be our third win in succession. All my life prior to this, I’d been following teams in England, especially in the lower leagues, where 46 league games is the norm. But here, with only one cup competition and only 17 other teams to face, suddenly, being three games into the race seems like we’re very far in indeed.

Braunschweig (4-4-2): Stuckmann, Zimmermann, Grimm, Jülich, Lieberknecht; Fuchs, Mazingu, Arnold, Graf; Thomas, Rische

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Däbritz, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Neubert

If we start all of our away games like this, it’s going to be a long year. Braunschweig dominate all over the pitch, and we can barely get a touch to the ball. It’s like we’re cursed or something, as they pour down upon us in attack. Much to my dismay, Kresic isn’t up to the task of keeping us in the running, and on six minutes, Lieberknecht serves us a hanging cross into the box that noone can apparently get to, for Rische to happily nod into the back of the net with a glancing header. Six minutes later, they’re at is again, this time Mazingu, taking a poor clearance first time and setting himself up before blasting a 30 yard shot that doesn’t have much curve, but has the pace to zip past Kresic’s half-hearted attempt at a save and into the net.

Even with a few changes to our tactics for the day, Braunschweig’s assault continues, and I’m looking glum on the bench until our counter-attack finally gets a sign of life, Neubert taking what was a seemingly useless run out to the left flank and delivering a ball into the box that Janssen makes good on, beating his man to the ball and thumping a header into the net.

After the interval, things are a great deal more balanced, although we’re seeing a real problem with Mazingu, who is dominating the midfield and threatening the net constantly with shots from 20-30 yards time and time again. So it’s a bit of a surprise to men when one smart header from Wagefeld frees substitute Daniel Ziebig to go screaming in on net, curling a shot just over Stuckmann’s shoulder that he paws at but can’t stop. A two goal fightback, and I’m looking thrilled.

Braunschweig kick it into high gear again however, and begin running rings around us once more. It takes them three minutes to put things back to rights, Graf personally making Oppitz and Bittermann look like amateurs before delivering a pass to a wide-open Rische that the striker takes at the left edge of the penalty area and drills past Kresic for the go-ahead goal. A stupid penalty later, and we’re wondering why we couldn’t turn a two-goal return into a draw.

Final Score – TSV Eintracht Braunschweig 4:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Lars Fuchs

After the game, I have no harsh words for the team, not yet, but I’m sure they all understand that their performance as a whole was poor, and that improvements are absolutely needed. Much worse, we lose midfielder Michael Brown for two months to a torn groin muscle, which he somehow managed over the course of the game. Moreover, Osnabrück aren’t interested in Wagefeld for our terms.

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August 18th, 2003

I’m aiming towards making our first real transfer of the year, although it’s not entirely what I was hoping for. Jose Brenes of Costa Rican side CD Cartaignés is a good player, and will be a great fix for our left flank. Problem being that he’s Costa Rican, not a German Under-24 or Under-21. Still, we need the help, and I’m willing to blow the majority of our transfer budget on a $100K move for the left-winger. His desire for a $40K a year paycheck is a bit steep, but we’ve got enough flexibility to make it work.

August 20th, 2003

René Beuchel is currently toiling away in our 2nd team (Dynamo Dresden II), and probably won’t see the light of the first-team anytime soon, so divisional opponents KFC Uerdingen 05 would like to purchase him from me today. For nada. Zip, zilch, nothing. A freebie.

No. Way.

However, I’m not entirely against the notion, so I let them know he’s theirs, if they’re willing to give me ½ of his next sale fee. Personally, I don’t think it’ll be a cent over $5,000, if that, but, I’m not going to sit here and let them get away with grand theft.

August 22nd, 2003

Uerdingen agree to my terms for René Beuchel, and I allow them to talk turkey with the player. He’s got no future here, and I doubt he has much of a future as a professional footballer. But that’s just my opinion I have other things to focus on, namely our upcoming match against Borussia Dortmund in the First Round of the German Cup.

August 23rd, 2003

German Cup – First Round: Dynamo Dresden vs. Borussia Dortmund

This isn’t the worst First Round matchup thinkable… but it’s close. Dortmund competes for the Bundes Liga title year after year, and now we’re taking them on in the German Cup. I don’t like to say that I have “throw away gamesâ€, but this one’s damned close. Noone’s going into this expecting a big win, but hope springs eternal.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hofmann; Däbritz, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, N’Kunku

Dortmund (3-4-1-2): Weidenfeller; Bergdølmo, Wörns, Reuter; Dédé, Kehl, Frings, Evanìlson; Ricken; Èwerthon, Koller

Dortmund’s first team of starters draw a nearly full house, 26,000 strong through our doors for the game, and, I’m very proud to say we hold our own for the first 30 minutes. I’m even more proud to say that we manage to strike first, Tim Janssen continuing a stellar season, curling home from 18 yards to put us in the lead.

However, we are playing Dortmund.

It only takes three minutes for Koller to equalize the scores, and they push themselves happily into pole position for the win, scoring four goals in a row before substitute Thomas Neubert tacks on one for dignity in the 88th minute. Still, we fought hard and, had we taken all of our chances, and we did have a few, maybe we might’ve held out. But, that’s one less thing to worry about this year.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 2:4 Borussia Dortmund

MoM – Jan Koller

After the match, I make sure to tell the boys that I am proud of them for their performance. They managed to outplay a far superior team for nearly half the game, and deserved better than what the scoreline showed. That said, the German Cup just wasn’t on my achievements radar this year, especially with Dortmund in line to take us on first. What sticks out more than anything currently is the continuing good form of Tim Janssen, who is showing an obscene amount of ability and composure for a 17-year old. I don’t want to burn him out, but he’s going to play, and play, and play here.

August 24th, 2003

Stuttgarter Kickers, from the Regional Division South come calling today, inquiring about Thomas Neubert. They’d like to take him away from us for $55K over the next 12 months, plus one of their aging Defensive Midfielders in a Transer/Player Swap. This isn’t nearly close to my valuation of Neubert, which stands at $250K based on possible future returns, so the offer is rebuffed.

August 26th, 2003

Torsten Bittermann’s age catches up to him today, as he twists his knee on the training field, sidelining him for two weeks of play. Good and bad, bad because it’s legs down, good because, even though he is the team captain, I’m wondering how good Bittermann can possibly be anymore.

Meanwhile, I’m happily announcing the signing of José Brenes, who arrives in Dresden today, ready and raring to go and play. He’s not everything I want, but he’s more than enough right now.

Meanwhile, Rene Beuchel completes his move to Uerdingen today, so the doors at Dynamo Dresden are swinging both ways.


José Brenes (24 y/o, CRC 7 caps, D/M L)


René Beuchel (30 y/o, GER, M C)

In transfers that actually matter on a European scale, a $9.75M bid is all it takes for Barcelona to take talented young French fullback Patrice Evra from Monaco and bring him to Catalan country. Evra, who, along with Philippe Mexes may be one of the “next big things†in French football, at least at the back. Early reports are he’ll fight with Fernando Navarro for the starting gig.

August 29th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 3: SC Preußen Münster vs. Dynamo Dresden

This game I’m anxious about. I need to know whether our form this year will be the always frustrating “strong at home, weak on the road†kind of form that has plagued so many mid and lower-table teams throughout Football’s history. Our last away game was a debacle at best, so a good showing, and at least a point is what I’m looking for.

Münster (3-5-2): Gößling; Nischkowsky, Schryba, Matarazzo; Bäumer, Hayer, Küsters, Harf, Schäper; Milde, Gockel

Dresden (4-4-2): Herber; Langen, Richter, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Däbritz, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Neubert

It would seem to me, from viewing our opposition in many cases, that I may have allowed my eyes to get bigger than my stomach in some cases already this year. Dresden has just been promoted, so I may need to temper my expectation. Still, I expect better, when only 55 seconds after kickoff, Münster absolutely waltzes through our defense, Hayers, Harf and finally Milde playing chip after chip past our bamboozled looking defense before Milde happily slots one right between Herber’s legs that could’ve (should’ve) been saved. Playing on the road is going to be quite difficult for us this year, that I can sense already, and any bits of good luck that come our way we need to seize on. So, when Maik Wagefeld’s volley on 26 minutes from just outside the area deflects off Schryba and ends up redirected past Gößling, we’re up in the air cheering the equalizer.

Herber, however, adds a real howler to his tally today, racing off his line to collect a chip into the box. Problem being, he doesn’t go up nearly strong enough, and can’t get his hands on a ball that, by all means, he should have. Hayer, the beneficiary of Herber’s spill is more than happy to easily convert the tap-in to put us down as the half ends.

Fighting back constantly isn’t going to work for us in the long run, but we keep on working at it, which is very, very good to see. When we’re on, we’re really taking our chances when they come, highlighted on 52 minutes as Däbritz and Janssen work a wonderful one-two down the left that frees the on-Loan striker to whip a dangerous ball right into the six-yard box that Neubert muscles past his man and nods right into the side of the net for the equalizer. Five minutes later, and we’re hemorrhaging bad goals again, Milde beating Richter in the air easily to nod home his second and Münster’s third. They form a defensive shell, and force the ball into our half constantly for the next 30 minutes, and I’m left wondering whether we’ll have the quality to put together any really good away games this year. But, Thomas Neubert plays the part of our savior, a flick-on from substitute N’Kunku freeing him for a streaking run on net. As Münster’s defense closes down, he shoots, a ball that, while not particularly convincing, is good enough to clip off Gößling’s foot and roll agonizingly into the net to guarantee us a point.

Final Score - SC Preußen Münster 3:3 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tino Milde

After the game, our greatest failing this year becomes very, very apparent. We’re hemorrhaging goals at the back, be it from bad defense or bad goalkeeping, and we’ve got to stop giving up 2-3 goals a game to be a real, strong team. Our record is entirely indicitave of how our year be. 2-0-0 at home with six goals for and one against, versus a 0-1-1 record away with five goals for and seven against. And still, through all this, we’re 4th.

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September 6th, 2003

The transfer window closes with a whisper, rather than a bang, Patrice Evra’s move is the biggest of all the last week of parlays, surprising fiscal responsibility from a football world known for throwing money at every single problem it might (or might not) have. I can’t help but chuckle some, knowing the transfer window has closed for me as well. Between us and the riches in Munich, who does the German FA think is going to go out and try to buy Robinho?

The biggest news in recent days is Euro 2004-related, as Germany knocks off Iceland 1-0 thanks to a Bernard Laum goal in the 55th minute to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs. Heavily favored to get win the automatic bid into the tournament, eyes are now turning to Scotland who are second in Group 6, continually surprising with today’s 4-0 victory over minnows The Faroe Islands. The coming matchup between the two on the 10th should have a real say in who finishes where in the Group.

Meanwhile, I’m looking to Africa for talent. Seeing how many foreign nationals are in other teams, and realizing that, with seven substitutes on the bench that I can adhere to the German FA’s rules without putting any of them in the starting squad, I’m trying to bend a little bit. Julius Berger’s got two strong players in Ishola Shuiabu and Uche Okereke, but whether I can draw the pair to Germany to play their football is a little dicey. I’m hoping my enquiry as to their pricing won’t be returned with an exorbitant fee.

September 10th, 2003

The plot thickens.

Fans are enraged today after Germany’s shock 3-1 defeat to Scotland in Leverkusen. Noone’s entirely sure what happened, as the game seemed a reasonably even affair, but, after a 13th-minute penalty from Michael Ballack, Germany just can’t find the net again, not to mention their profligate shooting, what with eight of their thirteen shots not making it on target. Scotland, on the other hand, just took their chances when they came, goals from Mark Burchill, Barry Ferguson and Paul Dickov undoing the Germans plans and leaving the teams tied at 14 points with one game left. With Germany in second on virtue of Goal Difference, four behind Scotland, a win over Iceland in October is needed to take the automatic bid and avoid the always-dangerous playoffs. With Scotland playing Lithuania, Germany’s going to have to have a little luck on their side now.

September 11th, 2003

My favorite “loopholeâ€, so to speak, in the transfer window rules is that while no Transfers can me made, free transfers are all well and good. So while my inquiries as to Ishola Shuaibu and Uche Okere may not come to fruition until January, I can look for uncontracted players who can do a huge job for us right now. So today I’m happy to be introducing Goran Markovic to his new teammates today. A 27-year old Serbian striker, if he acclimates, he’ll give us one of the things that we really need, at least so I hope, that thing being a reliable striker up front. More important, he’s willing to take a squad rotation position as he acclimates to the new country and climes, and if he can, his finishing ability should put opposing defenses under pressure. Now… to address the problems in defense.

Goran Markovic (27 y/o, SCG, F LC)

September 13th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 5: Dynamo Dresden v. Wuppertaler SV

I’d like to keep this upper-portion of the table pace, so at least a point today is what we should be aiming for. As always, whether we get it or not is another matter entirely.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Brenes, Frölich, Wagerfeld, Däbritz; Neubert, Janssen

Wuppertal (4-4-2); Maly; Bach, Narewsky, Mehnert, Baltes; Hörster, Gensler, Flock, Meyer; Terranova, Kohout

I feel like Claudio Ranieri, constantly tweaking, tinkering with our particular variant of the 4-4-2, trying to make it into something that works for us in particular. My work thus far has had its ups and downs, one of the downs nearly coming early in the form of a horrible mistake from Frölich falling right to Mayer’s feet at midfield. With half of our team already in attack, he strides forward and blasts a curling 25-yarder that Kresic seems to react to late, but still manages to get a hand to and keep out of our net. So, to watch Breinburg, of all people, one-up him on 18 minutes is a shock and a wonderful thing to see, the central defender showing a striker’s level of class and ability, taking a header from Brenes just outside of the box and volleying it first-time right into the back of Maly’s net. Ten minutes later, we’re really off to a flyer, Wagefeld continuing to show his worth and ability by dribbling past his marker, and making it all the way to the left edge of the penalty arc before unleashing a (in all truth) tame shot that Maly doesn’t read nearly well enough off his foot, and ends up having to watch roll into the net.

Home is where the heart is, so they say, and apparently it’s where our best form is as well, as Janssen and Neubert both tuck in goals after the break, and we coast to a victory and three more points. Now, if only we could do this away from home eh?

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:0 Wuppertaler SV

MoM – Tim Janssen

After the game, my lecture to the team is positive, albeit stern. The win is good, it puts us into 2nd place, only behind Schalke 04’s Under-23s squad, who have been on a tear this year. But, with our next game on the road against 8th-placed Neumünster, and no less than another five teams three points or less behind us, this is no time to feel secure. A win against Neumünster, or at least a more decent showing could go a whole lot for us. I have a feeling that whoever does the best on the road here will end up in the Second Divison next year.

As I prepare to leave for the evening, my secretary informs me that Julius Berger would like to talk turkey about both Okereke and Shuiabu. $120K for the latter, $40K up front with another $30K after 30 goals for the latter. Since it won’t be until January before either of these moves go through, I ship off a fax saying that it sounds perfect.

September 15th, 2003

Good news today, as we finish negotiations with Julius Berger and agree to bring on both Ishola Shuaibu and Uche Okereke for a modest fee of $80K (combined) up front, with another $120K wrapped up in clauses, like League Games played, Goals Scored, or just over the next 12-18 months. The board is wary about he move, but I assure, them, it’s the last signings I’ll be making as a manager this year, unless I’m absolutely sure Pelé himself (or, in this case, Frans Beckenbauer) is the prospect in question. The deals go through January 1st.

September 16th, 2003

Everyone’s favorite continental club competition kicks off for real today, with the beginning of the group stages. Here’s how they’ll match up…

Group A: Newcastle, Porto, Celtic, AC Milan

Group B: FC Bayern, Olympique Lyonnaise, Lazio, CSKA Sofia

Group C: Real Sociedad, Olympiakos, Austria Vienna, Dinamo Kiev

Group D: Deportivo la Coruña, Manchester United, Lokomotiv Moscow, PSV Eindhoven

Group E: Ajax, Beskitas, Juventus, Partizan Belgrade

Group F: Arsenal, FC Copenhagen, Panathinaikos, Sparta Prague

Group G: AEK Athens, Chelsea, Monaco, Real Madrid

Group H: Benfica, VfB Stuttgart, M. Tel-Aviv, Internazionale

With the talent spread out rather well over the six groups, it’s really anyone’s call this year. However, with their buying spree behind them, money is being placed on Real Madrid to retake the title, or Inter Milan, who have started out the Serie A season in style, scoring eight goals in two games. Myself? I’m betting on Manchester United, I think if Anelka plays like the player he’s been hyped to be, they’ll do the trick.

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September 19th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 6: VfR Neumünster v. Dynamo Dresden

Ah, the perilous away game. Here’s hoping for a turn of fortune.

Neumünster (5-3-2): Freidrichs; Lass, Schröder, Gersdoft, Westphal, Petersen; Bagemiel, Dede, Hey; Zoric, Reibe

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Brenes, Frölich, Wagerfeld, Däbritz; Neubert, Janssen

All this past week I’ve been tinkering, toying, trying to find the right mix of offense and defense to properly compliment these players and this team. But, I’m sure it’s the players and not me as we come flying out of the blocks for today’s matchup. It only takes three minutes before Freidrichs is called into commission, forced to make a stellar save on a point-blank volley effort from Neubert that was as much a save of sheer luck as it was ability. To his credit, Neubert is undeterred, and continues firing, although his second attempt is well-wide of net, his third, on 19 minutes is the one which we’ll happily claim as our own. The move begins with Langen easily slipping past Petersen to put a pass right to the feet of a wholly unmarked Brenes, who whips a cross into the box from the left that actually drops and nearly settles before Neubert makes it to the ball first, drilling it into the back of the net for the opener. Less than five minutes later, Tim Janssen, who is becoming more and more valuable with every single game he plays, is all too happy to meet another of Brenes’ crosses into the box, leaping high into the air to get his head to the looping cross and send it underneath Freidrichs and into the net.

2-0, and we’re absolutely dominating. We can’t find the net for the remainder of the half, but our defense surely isn’t allowing Neumünster any chance to come back. At least, not until 73 minutes. A bit of miscommunication at the back between Breinburg and Oppitz gives Reibe all the time he needs to head the ball right to a completely unmarked Zoric, whose 20-yard piledriver couldn’t have been stopped by the world’s best. 2-1, and with the home crowd starting to try and get behind their team, Goran Markovic, on as a sub, puts a real cap on the proceedings, a simple bit of play down the wing allowing Däbritz to whip in a simple cross for Markovic to head back across the goalmouth and into the net, guaranteeing us three more points.

Final Score - VfR Neumünster 1:3 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tim Janssen

After the game, I give the team the congratulations they deserve for the win. We’re first in the Division now, a point ahead of Schalke 04’s Under-23 side. I know we’re only six games in, but this will do a lot for team morale. My goal is for us to take at least 60 points this year, and the more we accrue, the better. We’re partially there now.

September 26th, 2003

Six games into the Bundes Liga season and FC Bayern are atop already, unbeaten and with only one away draw to blemish their record. 2nd is Schalke 04, who is apparently having success throughout the organization, from the reserves to the first-team.

German Regional Division North – Game 7: Dynamo Dresden v. FC Schalke 04 Under-23s

Schalke 04’s reserves played just after our win over Neumünster, retaking their place atop the North Division, but only two points ahead of us. Sure, it’s early in the season, but there isn’t a person in our organization who wouldn’t like to make the No. 1 spot all ours. I’m trying to hold off on evaluating our season until after 10 games but we can’t help but feel like the environment at the stadium today is a little more charged than usual.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Brenes, Frölich, Wagerfeld, Däbritz; Neubert, Janssen

Schalke 04 (4-4-2): Ünlü; Caspers, Adamu, Kläsener, Koch; Schiller, Büskens, Prang, Pinto; Delura, Haufe

There’s no way to start the game better than scoring. Neither team can lay claim to that particular boon, but we come closest, Oppitz immediately testing Ünlü merely two minutes into the game off a Däbritz, forcing the Turk into a good, low save. I would’ve assumed that, with both teams on four-game unbeaten streaks, momentum would’ve been 50/50 but we’re pressuring Schalke hard, continually stressing their backline, and it’s only a matter of time until the Dutch wonderkid, Tim Janssen gets into the mix, Däbritz’s flick-on allowing him into the box free and clear to thump the opener between Ünlü’s legs. With Schalke looking toothless at best, Däbritz and Janssen combine to create havoc once more, Däbritz’s corner into the area superbly headed by Janssen and equally well saved by Ünlü. Problem being, he doesn’t catch the ball, simply block it, and Neubert is there to stab it home from inches away, 2-0 to us!

Schalke finally find their first, best chance just before the interval, a cross into the box from Prang finding Haufe’s glancing header, but Kresic, apparently having finally found his legs again, is there to bat it clear of the net and keep us safe. From the restart, Schalke finally seem to be intent on getting a little more forward, but all it does take is a single mistake to law them low once more, this time Ünlü coming far too far out off his line to punch a ball clear, and giving the ball an unconvincing tap at that, allowing a grateful Langen to pick it up and drill home from 20 yards into a yawning net. On 64 minutes, we put the icing on this cake, Janssen credited with a goal that was, by all means, an own goal, his shot for the top right corner deflecting off Caspers and ending up right in the bottom left-hand corner of the net. He’ll take it though, and I’m not complaining.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:0 FC Schalke 04 Under-23s

MoM – Tim Janssen

After the match, I remind the team not to let this go to their heads. We’ve pulled off some good wins already in the year, yes, and our form has been strong at home, but we can’t start thinking about the future until March, at least. Until then, we have to focus on each game as it comes, and take it (*groan*) day by day.

There is a bit of bad news after all. It seems Maik Wagefeld, who came off in the 18th minute complaining of shoulder pain, has broken said part of his body,

September 30th, 2003

Theirry Henry puts on a real performance today, as the European Champions Cup continues. He scores four times, upping his tally for the season to 11 goals in 9 games as Arsenal somehow manage to have Martin Keown sent off in the 18th minute and still rattle off six goals to destroy FC Copenhagen 6-3.

October 1st, 2003

I think everyone’s a little surprised today when Reinhard Breinburg is awarded the Goal of the Month award today, quite the honor for a central defender. No day, the joke around the training pitch is that he’ll be the central focus of all of our offensive moves from this point on this year.

October 3rd, 2003

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Awgh, missed one and I hate re-writes. We draw with RW Essen 1-1. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

October 11th, 2003

Despite dominating in a 2-0 victory over Iceland today, Germany faces the unhappy prospect of the Playoffs, as Scotland’s 3-1 win over Lithuania propels them to the top of Group 5, four goals ahead on Goal Differential. Germany isn’t the only nation looking angrily upon its national team, as the Italian media can’t stop spewing invective at their players, after a lifeless 0-0 draw with Serbia & Montenegro gifts Group 9 to Wales and sends the Italians to the playoffs. It’s a coup for the UK and surrounding area, as Ireland and England also qualify through to Euro 2004.

The playoffs are set as such…

Norway v. Belgium

Poland v. Italy

Slovenia v. Holland

Switzerland v. Germany

Turkey v. Ukraine

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October 17th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 9: RW Essen v. Dynamo Dresden

Another tough road game against tough opposition, RW Essen have had the bad luck to finish 3rd in the Regional Division North the last two years running, and have their sites set on turning two years of bad fortune around. We, the upstarts clashing with Schalke 04 for the top spot in the Division, would just like to put ourselves in a position of strength, so that, at the least, relegation isn’t a worry. Of course, if we’re reasonably in the championship race halfway through the year, our perspectives might change a bit…

RW Essen (4-4-2): Kirschstein; Weigelt, Bonan, Baumann, Sümnich; Tutas, Lintjen, Heerkens, Goldbæk; Köhler, Hauswald

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Bittermann; Brenes, Scholze, Wagerfeld, Däbritz; Neubert, Janssen

A real see-saw encounter begins merely five minutes from kickoff, as Neubert lines up out wide left of the Essen penalty area to deliver a free kick that dips slowly into place for Tim Janssen to nod netwards with his head. Bonan, who was challenging for the header, manages to get just enough of his body in the way to give the ball the perfect diversion, sending it just off Kirschstein’s hand and into the back of the net as we leap to an early lead.

But Essen come firing back, pushing hard up the field in attack. To me, it only seems like a matter of time until, on 14 minutes, Heerkens lines up for a 25-yard freekick that he bends, gloriously into the top-right corner of Kresic’s net to equalize the scores.

We come close to retaking the lead twice, Tim Janssen cracking a shot just wide of net before Neubert manages to fluff an easy chance, skying the ball over the net. Essen, meanwhile, are patiently waiting, catching out defenders out of place, using fine passing to befuddle our back line until a midfielder can finally come charging home and scramble the ball away. It’s real end-to-end stuff for a good half-hour after Heerkens’ goal, but, as the half comes to an end, Bittermann allows himself to be completely caught out by a smart pass from Heerkens, chaing in vain after Goldbæk who takes the time to set himself on the wing before delivering a cross right to Köhler which the striker dispatches on net. It’s not particularly convincing in speed, but it’s placed, and Kresic’s reaction is woeful, as the ball floats into the back of the net and Essen take the lead at the half.

At the half, I take off Neubert, who’s been fluffing chances left and right, and replace him with Goran Markovic, hoping to see some improvement in our attack. Happily, his influence is immediate, and we’re pushing Essen to mistakes with our pressing attack. On 54 minutes, Tutas’s woefully ill-thought header pops straight up in the air, leaving Lintjens and Scholze to fight for the ball. As the pair clash, the ball is pushed repeatedly towards the Essen end, until finally, in a quick tap and a burst of speed, Scholze wins the ball on the edge of Essen’s area. With the Essen defense either asleep or otherwise occupied, Scholze unleashed a 20-yard lawnmower shot that zips across the turf, clips off the right post and into the net for the equalizer.

Seven minutes later, José Brenes, already one of the best decisions I’ve made all year helps put us ahead, delivering a pinpoint cross from the wing for Goran Markovic to redirect past Kirschstein and into the net. 3-2, and we’re pulled ahead. Markovic does it again on 72 minutes, this time acting as the setup man, perfectly heading a chip into the box down for a completely unmarked Janssen, who has the time to control the ball, dribble, and then rip our fourth home.

Essen manage one more before time, and Markovic himself tacks on another, to ensure the three points.

Final Score – RW Essen 3:5 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tim Janssen

After the game, I give the team the praise they deserve. Fighting back from a 2-1 defeceit in the First Half, scoring four times in the second on the way to three well-deserved points… this is the kind of play I’m hoping these boys can give me all year. The only real news after the game is that I’ll be dropping Thomas Neubert in favor of Goran Markovic for our next fixture.

October 21st, 2003

More Champions Cup action today, as VfB Stuttgart surge to the top of their group after a 3-0 defeat of Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The real news today is in Group G, as Chelsea win their third straight and are now six points clear of any opposition, with Real Madrid in a shocker today, losing to AEK Athens 2-1 in Greece. It’s shaping up to be a great year for England, as Arsenal are also three games unbeaten after dominating Panathinaikos today, a 3-1 destruction that lies entirely at the feet of the peerless Theirry Henry, who made mincemeat of the Greek defenders on his way to his 12th, 13th, and 14th goals in 11 competitive matches this year.

October 22nd, 2003

With the group stages now halfway done, the real shock so far is the ability being shown by PSV Eindhoven, who are unbeaten in their first three matches today after beating Manchester United at the Phillips Stadion 2-1. United just couldn’t find the script, Johann Vogel and Mateja Kezman doing the damage, and putting PSV in pole position for qualification to the Knock-out stages. The only other news is more local, as FC Bayern defeat Lazio 2-0 and take 1st in Group B with a perfect record. So strong has Bayern’s performance been, that they haven’t surrendered a goal so far in the Group Stages of the competition.

October 23rd, 2003

Torsten Bittermann goes down for a week with a twisted knee. Considering the consistency of his performances this year, I’m partially sad to lose our captain, and happy to give someone, anyone else a shot at taking his job.

October 24th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 10: Dynamo Dresden v. Borussia Dortmund (A)

Our second time taking on this particular organization, although now, it’s not Jan Koller and Tomas Rosicky we face, but the men who hope to some day play alongside them (or even take their jobs!). The upside? I’d like to think that we’re at least as good as Dortmund’s 3rd-stringers. Moreover, they’re only three points behind us, in 3rd-place, and a win would create some valuable separation space.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Markovic, Janssen

Dortmund (3-4-1-2): Rose; Schuchart, Risser, Berg; Wagner, Sasy, More, Metzelder; Westphal; Wanke, Martin

“I’d like to think that we’re at least as good as Dortmund’s 3rd-stringers.â€

Change “thinkâ€, to “knowâ€.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 6:0 Borussia Dortmund (A)

MoM – José Brenes

After the game, we’re splattered all over the local evening news. Eleven goals in two games, the team is seemingly clicking on all cylinders, and, with Schalke’s draw with Wattenscheid, we’ve moved into sole possession of 1st place, two points ahead of Schalke 04 and five ahead of 3rd-placed St. Pauli. Still, I’m cautious to my players. Yes, we’re clicking, and yes, that’s wonderful. But we don’t want to peak early and lose our stuff at the end of the year. Nevertheless, this is a great start, and they deserve all the accolades Chairman Rudi throws at them after today’s win.

All in all, looking over the Division after 10 games, I am absolutely sure that away form will be the deciding factor in the title. We own the best away record in the division at 2-2-1, the next best team 2-1-2. With each team’s home stadium proving a fortress to those who enter it, whoever can make the most out of their 17 road trips this year will probably be battling hardest for promotion.

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November 1st, 2003

With the first two full months of the season come and gone, the German Divisions are starting to settle into the upper and lower halves. The Bundesliga itself holds at least a few changes, with Schalke 04 leading the way with 24 points from 10 games, and a record unblemished by any losses so far. FC Bayern creeps behind, two points back, with Leverkusen in 3rd with 21. With Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart and Werder Bremen all in the top 10, it doesn’t look like there will be much change in the top half of the table this year. Meanwhile, Hamburger SV, Hannover 96 and Rostock are all looking down, wondering about the next ten games, with the teams stuck in 16th, 17th and 18th place, respectively.

In the Second Division, Nürnberg sits atop with 28 points from 13 games, Burghausen and Duisberg hot on their heels, neither further away than 4 points. With six of the eighteen teams sporting unblemished home records, it’s not too hard to figure out what it will take for a team to win the Second Division this year. Like for us, away form will surely be the key there.

And here, in the Regional Division North, we’re still top, much to the pleasure of the board and fans, although I can’t find the board at fault for not being flush with success yet. If we’re here after 17 games, then we’ve got something. That said, Schalke 04 (A) is a point behind in 2nd, with St. Pauli a full four points behind Schalke in 3rd.

German Regional Division North – Game 11: Dynamo Dresden vs. Weder Bremen (A)

Yet another game against teams that seem filled with other club’s has-beens and never-was’s. Honestly, if I could have my way, these “Amateur†wouldn’t play here but last I checked I wasn’t a member of the German FA. A man can hope though…

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Markovic

Bremen (4-1-2-1-2): Jurgen; Wolf, Engels, Seeger, Stallbaum; Unger; Maier, Frank; Muzzicato; Weber. Massen

What began in the year as a healthy respect for these “Amateur†sides has degenerated, as our players begin to understand that just because a big club’s name is associated with a side, if it’s not that actual club, it doesn’t mean a thing. The crowd is rather sparse for today’s game, but the players still give it its due determination, with Heidrich forcing a nice save out of Jurgen only 10 minutes into the proceedings. Markovic gets his own chance to hold his head in his hands on 17 minutes, a smart header down from the continually-skilled Brenes allowing him into the box to flash a shot from the left towards the near post that has Jurgen completely beaten, but clacks off the left post and rolls agonizingly across the mouth of the net. That wouldn’t be the end of Markovic’s troubles, as he’s held by the post again on 41 minutes, a skilled spin and shot from 20 yards once again rebounding off the same left post before rebounding back into play for Jurgen to smother.

We should be 2-0 up going into the second half, but instead, we’re stuck a nil-nil with Bremen trying desperately to hold us to a point each, and perhaps sneak one at our end. With Dona N’Kunku on for Janssen, who’d taken a knock, we begin to press upfield again, all but setting up shop in the Bremen end. And it’s another near-chance on 52 minutes, Brenes expertly taking down a chip from N’Kunku inside of the area before flicking a gentle chip past a stunned Jurgen that somehow hits the crossbar and bounces away from the net.

On 58 minutes, our hard work is rewarded. A freekick from out left by Heidrich zips into the box at speed to allow Oppitz the chance to bring it down and begin to turn. To his credit, Wolf is right there with a scything tackle to knock the ball away, but, rather than being cleared, it falls right to Wagefeld, who drills it first-time just past Jurgen’s outstretched hands and into the net. Three minutes later, N’Kunku makes his contribution in style, easily beating Engels to a Markovic cross, tapping the ball well past his marker before coolly slotting home from six yards. Kresic is left without work for the remainder of the day as we play for time.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 2:0 Werder Bremen (A)

MoM – Maik Wagefeld

After the game, a draw from Schalke 04 has staked us to our best lead so far this year, a solid three points ahead. It’s fun to look at the official message boards on the club website after the game. Our fans are absolutely thrilled with our start to the year, and believe that a finish in the upper third of the table is a real possibility if we can stay consistent.

November 4th, 2003

More Champions League action today, as a 1-1 draw with Lazio pushed FC Bayern a point closer to qualification for the knock-out stages in Group B. A fine 3-1 win over Celtic in Glasgow propels FC Porto into 1st place in Group A with eight points, two ahead of defending champions AC Milan, who defeated Newcastle 3-0 at San Siro for, surprisingly, their first win in the group stage of the tournament.

Dinamo Kiev looks primed and ready to continue their European adventure as they’re top of Group C after a 5-1 dismantling of Real Sociedad. Olympiakos and Sociedad, both stuck on seven points will battle it out for the remaining qualification place. And in Group D, Manchester United avenges its previous loss to PSV Eindhoven, beating the Dutch side 1-0 at Old Trafford. With both teams at nine points, PSV leads only on goal difference, and, with a 3-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow, Deportivo is still in the running with six points.

November 5th, 2003

London’s the place to be in the CL this year, as Chelsea and Arsenal are the first teams to qualify for the next round of the tournament, both doing so in style, Chelsea with a 2-0 victory over Monaco and Arsenal riding a Theirry Henry hat-trick to a 3-0 win over Panathinaikos. A 3-1 win over Ajax puts Juventus at the top of Group E with seven points, with Beskitas, Ajax and Partizan Belgrade no more than three points behind and still in the competition.

With Arsenal and Chelsea having already taken qualification spots in groups F and G, the race for the remaining place has begun in earnest, with FC Copenhagen leading the way in Group F and Real Madrid ahead in Group G, finding their legs again with a 2-0 win over AEK Athens at the Santiago Bernabeu. Lastly, in Group H, VfB Stuttgart and Inter Milan are both tied for the lead with nine points, Benfica behind them with six.

November 8th, 2003

Reinhard Breinburg strains his knee in practice before today’s game, so he’s out of the line up. I opt to do a little switch-up of the first 11 while I’m at it.

German Regional Division North – Game 12: FC Saschen Leipzig v. Dynamo Dresden

Promoted last year, Saschen Leipzig’s having a pretty good amount of trouble getting it done here, with only nine points from their first 11 games. Meanwhile, I’m hoping we can improve our away record.

Leipzig (5-3-2): Rechner; Marso, Freidrich, Bergner, Bach, Bleau; Ferl, Kemble, Bruns; Bongard, Meissner

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Richter, Oppitz, Bittermann; Jovanovic, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Däbritz; Neubert, Hartung

A dumb penalty, a number of horrible plays, and I’m left to feel very, very disappointed with my team today. We can’t stop Leipzig’s attack, even with much of the attacks starting deep in their end, and Kresic has reverted to the flapping form that has driven me nuts games and games before already. Richter tops things off nicely with a Red Card for a stupid shove on Meissner, which leads to yet another Leipzig goal. We need to forget this one.

Final Score – FC Saschen Leipzig 5:1 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Stefan Bongard

On the whole I’m very, very disappointed with the team’s performance. Our midfield wasn’t good, but our back line was absolutely atrocious in their attempts to stifle the Leipzig attack. Oppitz gave up the unneeded penalty, and Richter himself is the recipient of a warning for his completely stupid red card. Richter knows that he may not play much this year, but that I expect a whole lot more of him when he does, and accepts the warning. After the game, we find out he’s been banned for a match, which I won’t be appealing.

November 15th, 2003

Make that two games, as the German FA takes another look at Richter’s actions in the Leipzig game and extends his ban by a game, for a total of two games. He already understands how I feel about his play, so no words are necessary.

Meanwhile, in more important news, the Euro 2004 Qualification Playoffs begin today with a bang, with Belgium heading north to Scandinavia and beating Norway 3-1. Italy, despite two goals from Alessandro Del Piero cannot hold Poland back, and has to settle for an unbecoming 2-2 draw. A hat-trick from Roy Makaay just about ensures Holland passage into the tournament, as they demolish Slovenia 4-1 in Ljubljana. Turkey capitalizes on a bad performance from the Ukraine to win their match, 1-0.

Here, the pundits are predicting doom already, as Germany limped to a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in Basel today, a 44th-minute strike from Alex Geijo puts the Swiss up, and their defense’s dogged determination keeps the Germans at bay. Although not out of it yet, and happily returning home for the second leg, this Qualification campaign has been a disappointment so far for a nation that was runners-up in the World Cup only last year.

November 19th, 2003

Indeed, it’s home field advantage to the rescue for Germany as a 2-0 victory at the Olympiastadion propels them to Euro 2004 in Portugal with a 2-1aggregate win.. An early goal from Daniel Bierofka and a 25-yard stunner of a freekick from Sebastien Deisler were all it took, as the Swiss barely got a sniff of the German goal all game, as the Germans peppered the Swiss net with 12 shots. Some redemption, but still, many feel that it should have never come to this.

It’s favorites all the way in the rest of the playoff fixtures. Italy returns home confidently and defeats Poland 2-0 to win their fixture 4-2 on aggregate and will head for the continent’s biggest international competition. Turkey held off a valiant comeback attempt from the Ukraine to go through 2-2 on aggregate, via the away goals rule. Holland didn’t need to score a single time, and held Slovenia to a bore of a 0-0 draw, to send themselves through, 4-1 on aggregate. And three goals from Belgium is again more than enough to do away with Norway, a 3-2 win on the return and a 6-3 victory on aggregate sealing the final team for Euro 2004.

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Thanks Nygaard! I'm afraid i'm not entirely all that familiar with Dynamo Dresden's history myself, the club's website is all in German and Babelfish just doesn't do grammar well. icon_wink.gif But yes, that would be the ultimate goal, I hope so too.

Dixie, thanks a lot for the praise. I'm sure you've noticed, but I patterned my story heavily on yours, mainly because yours was/is the best i've ever seen, so think of this as a kind homage. I hope to keep this one going for a while, unless FM 2005 proves too, too tempting to pass up.

September 22nd, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 13: Dynamo Dresden v. Chemnitzer FC

With Chemnitz looking to improve on their 13th-place standing and us looking to improve on last week’s howler, this one’s pretty much up for grabs.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Janssen, Neubert

Chemnitz (5-3-2): Hiemann; Griller, Karl, Gröhler, Teichmann, Bustamante; Mehlhorn, Zivic,Schindler; Biermann, Artz

With many of our first-choicers back in the team, we’ve got a more positive start right from the beginning, and should take the lead on 24 minutes, when Wagefeld pops up once more to drill a loose ball towards the net that Hiemann does magnificently to not only save but collect as well. Little did we know that that would be a repeating theme throughout today’s game, with Hiemann continually making save after save to keep Chemnitz in the game. With Chemnitz’s attack absolutely without teeth or ability, we’re peppering Hiemann with shots, and continually the German proves his ability to be there to make the necessary save. Even when Janssen powers a point-blank header at the net from barely three yards away, Hiemann is there to paw it away in style.

So it’s a real joy to see Thomas Neubert finally break the shutout on 61 minutes, expertly rifling in a half-volley from 6 yards on a Josè Brenes cross that screams right into the top-right side of the net, leaving Hiemann without a chance. Our defense has all the cards in their favor, and Kresic has nothing to contend with as we cruise.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 1:0 Chemnizter FC

MoM – Holger Hiemann

November 25th, 2003

More action from the penultimate days of that particularly large European Cup competition today, as Juventus becomes the first team to qualify from Group E today after a 4-0 thrashing of Partizan Belgrade at the Della Alpi. With Ajax in 2nd with 7 points and Beskitas in 3rd with 6, the result of Ajax’s 2-1 defeat of Beskitas today, the ending possibilities for the Group are still in the air, although Ajax taking on Partizan while Beskitas takes on Juventus makes Ajax the pundit’s favorites to make it through.

Group F sees Arsenal continue their world-beating form, defeating Sparta Prague 2-1 at Highbury to keep their group stage record perfect. With Panathinaikos and FC Copenhagen both tied for 2nd with seven points with one game remaining, the good money’s on Panathinaikos to go through, as FC Copenhagen will have to play host to the juggernaut Arsenal.

Group G has Chelsea matching Arsenal’s feat, staying perfect after a 2-1 win over AEK Athens at Stamford Bridge . Group G already has all the qualification spots taken, as Real Madrid don’t do it in style, but they do do it, a 1-0 win in Monaco dropping the principality’s team and sending the Spaniards to the knockout stages.

Inter Milan is first to the finish line in Group H, demolishing VfB Stuttgart 4-0 at San Siro today. The last place in Group H will come down to a clash in two weeks time as VfB Stuttgart, in 2nd with nine points, takes on Benfica, who is 3rd with seven points.

November 26th, 2003

While Groups E, F, G and H are mostly decided, Groups A, B, C, and D are almost entirely up in the air. Despite a 3-0 win over Celtic, Milan still hasn’t taken Group A, and the same goes for Newcastle, despite their 4-2 win over FC Porto today. Milan leads with nine points, with Newcastle and Porto both on eight points, setting up what should be a great final day of action.

Group B sees FC Bayern as the only team to qualify today, after a lackluster draw with CSKA Sofia at 0-0. Beneath them, a 3-0 win by Lazio over Lyon puts them in 2nd place with seven points, ahead of Lyon. Both teams still have an honest shot at the final place, although with Lyon taking on FC Bayern, it may be a longshot.

Group C is led by Olympiakos today, after a 2-1 win over Dinamo Kiev that puts them atop with 10 points. Kiev is only a point behind them though, and after a 1-1 draw with Austria Vienna, Real Sociedad is only two points off the pace.

A 3-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow still isn’t enough to send Manchester United through, although they’re nearly a lock, with 12 points so far in the competition. However, after Deportivo’s 1-0 win over PSV today at the Riazor, the Dutch and Spanish sides sit at nine points, both with serious chances to make it through to the knockout stages.

November 29th, 2003

Another day, another godforsaken away game. Why can’t we just spend all 34 games at home?

German Regional Division North – Game 14: 1.FC Köln Under-23s v. Dynamo Dresden

A point away from the relegation places at 14th place, I’m sure Köln would like three points today as much as we would. Although, I’m hoping for such a bounty on the basis that St. Pauli and Schalke 04 are only three points behind us and I’d like to be right in the thick of it come the winter break.

Köln (4-4-2): Leese; Sambou, Schlösser, Ndjeng, Tosun; Kiskanc, Ndjeng, Zeh, Ciolek; Podolski, Chitsulo

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Markovic, Neubert

To say this game gets chippy would be an understatement on the level of saying that World War II was a minor international incident. Kicks, shoves, high tackles and other less than friendly moves are the name of the game today apparently, as three yellow cards in the first 30 minutes will certainly attest to. Much to my dismay, it seems that we’re taking the brunt of the offenses today, and I can see the boys beginning to try and lay back a little to prevent any further offenses. This, of course, bites us right in the behind on 38 minutes, when Zeh lines up a shot from 25 yards that screams in on net, only for Kresic to bat it away. Sadly, Podolski is there, ahead of three men in Dresden kits to poke home the rebound for 1-0.

We can’t get anything going offensively, a problem I place squarely at the feet of Thomas Neubert, who turns in another wildly inconsistent appearance today and ends up coming off at the half for Tim Janssen. The move doesn’t seem to help quite enough however, and Köln are simply holing up in their end, playing for time. It’s not until 74 minutes that something changes, and that’s for the worse, as Brenes, during a particularly vicious encounter with Zeh chooses to give his opposite number a heart shove, leading to a straight red and a trip to the showers, my eyes burning a hole in his back the whole way.

Köln take immediate advantage, and play the next ten minutes with the ball entirely in our end. We’re finding ourselves lucky time and time again as shot after shot flies just wide or above the net as Köln look to put this one away for good. But, all it takes is one, and, on 87 minutes Tim Janssen provides it, he and Markovic catching the Köln defense out of sorts, a smart through ball from Markovic allowing Janssen to go racing in on net and fire an equalizer past Leese to make sure we’ll leave here today with a point.

Final Score – 1.FC Köln Under-23s 1:1 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Reinhard Breinburg

While I’m not happy with our performance on the whole, I am happy to say that we managed to pull a point out of a game that had seemed lost with only minutes left, and those are the kind of things we need to be doing to win this year. That said, we need to improve more, our road record of 2-3-2 just won’t cut it.

Novembe 30th, 2003

Seven straight wins for St. Pauli ties them with us for 1st place this year, quite a feat indeed. They’ve surrendered a amazing 5 goals this year, and in all competitions, have only been scored on more than once by two teams. Us, and FC Bayern in the German Cup.

December 7th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 15: KSV Holstein Kiel v. Dynamo Dresden

A game against the worst team in the division, with only four points from 14 games to their name. This should be a cakewalk, right?

Kiel (5-3-2): Kronenberger; Pukaß, Hardt, Dowe, Bock, Spazzkov; Jensen, Rose, Scheirsand; Trejgis, Breitenreiter

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Jovanovic, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Däbritz; Markovic, Neubert

Rose does his part within six minutes of the start, flashing one just over Kresic and the net, but I’m quite pleased to say that the slightly less attack-minded approach I’ve unveiled for today’s game seems to be working just as I hoped it would, as we’re taking control of the midfield area and Kiel are quickly beginning to turn the ball over in worse and worse positions. Without explicitly looking for the counter-attack, we get one going anyway on 21 minutes, Langen passing to Jovanovic whose 40-yard ball for Markovic is as well-placed as it is well-thought, as Markovic easily controls the ball before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Janssen, which the youngster, showing wisdom beyond his years, does not hurry with, but gently takes down before rifling past Kroneneberger for the opener.

Markovic tallies himself on 30 minutes, with Kiel’s defense caught out on the wings once more, as Hoffmann easily sets Däbritz free with a long pass down the right, allowing Däbritz to serve a cross into the box that Kronenberger flaps at, only to see Markovic easily tap it home at the far post. Janssen adds a third and his second on 41 minutes, heading home a Jovanovic corner to ensure that the day is ours.

Final Score - KSV Holstein Kiel 0:3 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tim Janssen

The win back atop the league with 33 points, just two ahead of St. Pauli. It’s not safe, but we’re almost ensured a position in the top two once the winter break starts after our next fixture. With the rest, and a new half of the season to go on, I hope we can really make a run at best spot possible. I’m loathe to use the “P†word that is the goal of every team at this level, but it is becoming a possibility.

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December 9th, 2003

The final day of competition in the Champions Cup is wrought with a lot less spectacular upsets than many wanted and a lot more favorites rolling, as Newcastle, Milan, PSV, Manchester United, Lazio, Dinamo Kiev and Olympiakos all qualify for the knockout stages today in cruising style, with none of the aforementioned teams taking less than a point from their matches. All in all, it’s a bore really, except for PSV Eindhoven’s 5-0 smashing of Lokomotiv Moscow which really was more sad to watch than interesting.

December 10th, 2003

No surprises today either, as Inter Milan, FC Copenhagen and Ajax fill out the remained of the open slots for the knock-out stages of the competition. The only real news of merit is the continuing blistering form of Theirry Henry, who has scored an amazing 13 goals thus far in the competition, all in the group stage, five goals ahead of Henrik Larsson, his nearest competition.

Debemcer 13th, 2003

German Regional Division North – Game 16: Dynamo Dresden v. SG Wattenschied 09

The last game before winter break. A nice result would be worthwhile here, wouldn’t it?

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Jovanovic, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Däbritz; Markovic, Janssen

Wattenscheid (4-4-2): Jacob; Klimek, Jost, Maurer, Ratkowski; Schlabach, Witeczech, Jerat, Thönes; Löbe, Kolm

Perhaps it’s the oncoming vacation, but after a very promising opening 10 minutes, this game settles into the most blasé match I’ve seen in a long time. Noone seems very determined to make inroads into the oppositions defense, and our best chance comes on 41 minutes when Markovic flashes a 25-yard shot just wide of the left post. Other than that, this one’s a yawner.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 0:0 SG Wattenscheid 09

MoM – Adam Maurer

The draw finally spoils our 100% home record, as we’re now 7-1-0 at home. Nothing to be embarrassed about, especially for the first half of the season, and most importantly, we pulled a point, which keeps us two points ahead of St. Pauli.

Now, with the break upon us (40 glorious days of rest and relaxation before we restart on the 24th of January) I can sit back and begin to evaluate our season thus far, which, by anyone’s standards, has been one of gross overachievement. This team was, at best, supposed to finish in the upper half of the table, perhaps somewhere in the 5-9 places, and now we’re two points clear at the top. Admittedly, there’s still another 18 games to be played, so the big question is “ifâ€. We can make a real title push, “if†our form holds. “If†our players keep up to their current level of play. “If†Uche Okereke and Ishola Shuiabu turn out to be difference-makers. “If†for so many things. I don’t think a single one of our players or fans doesn’t understand that we’re not FC Bayern, that we’re not nearly a sure thing. There is a metric ton of things that could go wrong, and I’m in no hurry to find out what.

December 27th, 2003

After taking a little time away from the game myself to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, it’s back to the grind now, with the transfer market ready to swing back into action. It’s all about Robinho currently, the 19-year old starlet from Brazilian First Division champions Santos FC. The striker who was a driving force behind said championship campaign, scoring 24 times in 44 league games is apparently being chased both by Juventus and AC Milan, both of whom would surely love to add to their glut of talent.

Some teams have been wheeling and dealing already, with Arsenal selling midfielder Gilberto to Celta de Vigo for a stunningly high $17.5M. West Ham scored a absolute coup in pulling in $15.25M for Jermaine Defoe, who leaves for Real Betis, and Hidetoshi Nakata leaves Parma today for Galicia and Deportivo la Coruña in a move worth $15M to the struggling Italian side. All of this completely overshadows Vincenzo Montella’s jump from AS Roma to Valencia for a cheap $6M.

January 1st, 2003

Happy new year! What say we take a trip around the world of Football?

Here in Germany, after a short period of being behind, FC Bayern has retaken their usual place, atop the First Division with 36 points from 17 games. The difference this year is that they’re only ahead on Goal Differential, as Bayer Leverkusen is making another big push again, also with 36 points from their first 17. Third is Kaiserslautern, who has been riding the back of Miroslav Klose and his 11 league goals to what they certainly hope will be a European berth this year. Fourth is Schalke 04, who, after an early push into 1st place have done a good bit of downward sliding, courtesy of a five game winless streak. Hertha BSC rounds out the top five, which leads us to the surprise and wholly underwhelming play of Borussia Dortmund, who is 8th in the Bundes Liga and almost out of the title race already, surprising when people were expecting them to make a real push for the title this year.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, Frankfurt, Hansa Rostock and Hannover 96 are all staring down at relegation with none of the three teams having pulled more than 13 points from their first 17 games.

England’s top five read like a “who would’ve you expected†list. Arsenal may run away with the competition, unbeaten at Highbury and sitting atop with 52 points from 19 games, six points ahead of second placed Liverpool, and eleven points ahead of old rivals Manchester United. With Chelsea fourth and Newcastle fifth, it seems that most of the European places may have been wrapped up already, with only Newcastle in any danger of being caught up to, as Chelsea, with 40 points from 19, is already eleven points ahead of sixth-placed Middlesbrough.

There’s some good competition going in France, with Olympique Marseille sitting atop of Ligue 1 with 41 points, the move in the pre-season for Monaco’s Jêróme Rothen proving wise already, as the left winger has played sublimely, and helped supply strikers Mido and Drogba with 11 of their 24 combined league goals. Montpellier sits second, three points behind, with Strasbourg 3rd, Lens and Monaco 4th and 5th, respectively. There will certainly be a changing of the guard this year, with last year’s champions Lyon and usually skilled Paris-SG 8th and 9th in the competition.

As always, it’s Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord going 1-2-3 in Holland. Did you expect anything different?

The addition of Zinedine Zidane has done wonders for Inter Milan in Italy, and for the first time in a long while they’re actually looking at a real chance of taking the Scudetto title, currently three points ahead of surprise package Lazio. Juventus and Milan sit third and fourth, four and five points back of the leaders, while Sampdoria has stunned everyone by surging into fifth place. The fortunes of Roma haven’t been quite as good however, currently 7th, they’ll need to show a real change in late-season form to get to where they surely want to be.

And finally, in Spain it’s turning into a real battle for the top place in the Primera Liga, with none of the top three teams beaten at home yet. Valencia leads the pack with 39 points, tied with second place Deportivo, ahead only on virtue of head-to-head battles. Real Madrid is only a point behind, and by the time the dust settles, there will probably be some very, very unhappy fans in Spain this year. Real Sociedad, who spent $28M this offseason on new blood have put it to good use, and are now 4th, with Celta de Vigo 5th.

Meanwhile, here in Dresden I’m giving a heart hello to Uche Okereke and Ishola Shuiabu, and showing them around the ground and our facilities. I’d like to hope that the pair of them will prove to be that little extra push we need.

[p]Players In:

Uche Okereke (28 y/o, NIG 1 cap, S C)

Ishola Shuiabu (23 y/o, NIG 6 caps 3 goals, D/AM R)[/i]

January 10th, 2003

Two shocks today, the first being a question of what, exactly, is going on in Madrid?

We only ask this because today, club talisman Luis Figo walks out the doors of the Santiago Bernabeu, headed for, of all places, Germany and Dortmund for a paltry $7.75M today, surely a sign that there’s a real changing of the guard going on at Real Madrid. With Zidane and Figo out, two of the midfield lynchpins of the club are gone, leaving only Ronaldo and Raúl as the major remaining stars of the Pre-Beckham era. Considering how close the race for the top spot in the Spanish First Division is, the press is already trying to figure out exactly who Madrid has on their list as their next galactico.

The other shock today is the news that, rather than going with his supposed upcoming move to Valencia and a chance to play in Spain, Celtic’s Henrik Larsson has shocked all observers by announcing that he will be retiring from the game at the end of this current season, claiming that he wants to finish his career while he’s at his best. Given that Larsson arguably still has another 1-2 years of good form left in his, everyone in the game is scratching their head over the 32-year old’s decision.

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January 16th, 2004

I feel as if I’ve missed something, that something being the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup. Here’s how they’ll match up.

PSV Eindhoven v. AC Milan

Olympiakos v. Lazio

Manchester United v. Newcastle

FC Bayern v. Dinamo Kiev

Juventus v. VfB Stuttgart

FC Copenhagen v. Chelsea

Arsenal v. Real Madrid

Inter Milan v. Ajax

Obviously, the biggest pairing is Arsenal v. Real Madrid, as it’s already being hailed by the pundits as the real test of Carlos Queiroz and his new-look Madrid team, while it’ll be a great chance for Arsenal to finally prove themselves worthy of European competitions, by knocking off the biggest dogs on the block. On a more domestic level, the Man U v. Newcastle encounter should prove most entertaining, and the Netherland’s two biggest teams should give the representatives from Milan a good run for their money.

Perhaps partially in preparation for their run-in with Madrid, Arsenal beef up their midfield attack today, shelling out $6.5M for Brazilian side Internacional’s Daniel Carvalho. The 20-year old Brazilian midfielder was quite skilled for Internacional in the 2003 Brazilian First Division campaign, and his addition to the squad can only spell bad news for Arsenal’s enemies, as this team, which already was good enough at attacking can only profit from adding a young, forward-thinking midfielder to its ranks.

January 19th, 2003

Newcastle won’t have to worry about what will happen once Alan Shearer retires now, as they give themselves quite the insurance plan, signing Portsmouth’s Yakubu for a $12.25M fee from the 18th-placed Premiership club. Yakubu, who has already notched 11 league goals this campaign should give Newcastle extra bite in attack, as a strike-pairing of him and Craig Bellamy could arguably be the fastest in the Premiership.

January 24th, 2003

Arsenal really aren’t sitting on their heels in the transfer market, shelling out $8.5M to bring another young starlet to Highbury in the form of Shakhtar’s Julius Agahahowa. The pacey forward who had tallied six goals with Shakhtar this season will obviously give the team a huge extra option up front to stretch opposing defenses with, a real foil to Theirry Henry. The only problem being that the African Cup of Nations begins today, and Aghahowa won’t be theirs to use until that’s done and dusted with.

German Regional Division North – Game 17: KFC Uerdingen 05 vs. Dynamo Dresden

And back into the grind. This game will mark the halfway point of the season, and a good result here, combined with the fact that it’s a game on the road would make a result here much appreciated.

Uerdingen (4-4-2): Selke; Tauer, Spanier, Scherbe, Eraaslan; Müller, Nouri, Omodiagbe, Wersching; Feldhoff, Reichenberger

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Frölich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Okereke, Janssen

Oh what a difference a player makes. Uche Okereke nabs a hat-trick as we make a streaking to the season, and Ronny Scholze equals his accomplishment, putting in an absolutely stunning performance on the right flank and keeping his cool to convert both of the penalties Uerdingen gifts us. A laugher, no doubt.

Final Score – KFC Uerdingen 05 2:6 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Ronny Scholze

January 31st, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 18: Hamburger SV (A) v. Dynamo Dresden

An eventless week on the lead-up to today’s match, so we can focus entirely on continuing to gel as a team and preparing for the hurdles still infront of us. Still, only two points separate us from St. Pauli, who aren’t looking like they’ll be giving us even a half-moment of respite. Yes, okay, I’ll admit it now. After picking up Shaibu and Okereke, yes, we are making a title push.

HSV (A) (3-4-1-2): Bauer; Manthey, Grote, Preuß; Reichel, Wolf, Hanke, Kraus; Groth; Baich, Mamoum

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Frölich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Okereke, Janssen

I’m not sure whether we’re doing that well or is HSV is just awful, but we’re traipsing through another away game here, barely breaking a sweat as Janssen punts home two within the first 20 minutes, including a glorious 20-yard strike on a breakaway, driving the ball low and past Bauer to ensure three points for the night and the exact kind of road trip I would’ve wanted this team to put together today.

Final Score – Hamburger SV (A) 0:4 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tim Janssen

The win, combined with St. Pauli’s 1-1 draw with Saschen Leipzig puts us ahead by four points, with a crunch meeting away at St. Pauli coming up in two weeks time. Ostensibly, if Schalke 04 Under-23s don’t make a big, late run at us, that game will have a lot of say in who finishes where this year.

February 4th, 2004

The German Cup has finally set up for its May 22nd Final today, as FC Bayern, last year’s champions will be taking on Hamburger SV after a reasonably disappointing Semi-Final that saw both Division One sides beat sides from Division Two (Nürnberg and Ahlen, respectively) in comfortable 2-0 victories. Needless to say, just about everyone’s backing Bayern to make it a repeat in the Cup and there’s the chance they may just make it back-to-back doubles.

February 7th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 19: Dynamo Dresden v. TSV Eintracht Braunschweig

We are 7-1-0 at home this year, and I think the players understand exactly how important making the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion a real hell for our opposition is. Braunschweig, meanwhile, 7th with 25 points really don’t have much hope of making a title push at this point, short of putting together one of the best second halves in football history, so they probably won’t be all that disappointed with mid-table mediocrity.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Frölich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Okereke, Markovic

Braunschweig (4-4-2): Stuckmann; Zimmermann, Küpper, Grimm, Lieberknecht; Fuchs, Mazingu, Adrian, Grof; Thomas, Rische

There’s not much in this one from the kickoff, with Braunschweig playing as negatively as possible, which I can understand given that we’ve scored 10 goals in our last two games. Still, it’s quite frustrating a system to take on, given that it’s the kind of thing that you can’t make a mistake, unless your opposition converts it and renders your offensive scheme null and void. I’m up off the bench on 12 minutes, screaming at my defense to close down harder and faster when a Braunschweig corner is hacked around in the box for a second before Fuchs latches onto it and fires a half volley just inches wide of Kresic’s post.

There isn’t much between us throughout the first 30 minutes or so, until Braunschweig manage the first mental mistake of the game, as Dexter Langen’s diagonal run into the box causes absolute havoc among the Braunschweig defense, until Adrian himself finally makes a play, sweeping it out of the area. The problem being that his challenge to get the ball away was, at best, reckless and ill-timed. Adrian receives a yellow while the referee points at the spot. Up steps Shuaibu, the new boy, who happily converts to put us ahead.

There just isn’t much else more to the game from that point, especially after I remove Okereke for Scholze as the former limps off with an injury. It takes a little bit of a not-normal formation to finish out the rest of the match, but there’s no creativity in Braunschweig’s midfield, just longballs and hope, and we walk our way to the final whistle.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 1:0 TSV Eintract Braunschweig

MoM – Ishola Shuaibu

A win’s a win, three points are three points, and these are three points that give us 43 points from 19 games, and place us six points ahead of St. Pauli ahead of our matchup with them next week that could leave us nine points clear of the next closest team. Wouldn’t that be something special?

Meanwhile, José Brenes and Uche Okereke both are diagnosed with twisted knees, but both should be fit for the game against St. Pauli. I think I may give Okereke a rest, just in case.

February 14th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 20: FC St. Pauli v. Dynamo Dresden

The last time we took on St. Pauli it was game one, and we battled out a 2-1 victory at home to start off our campaign. Now, nineteen games later we’re six points ahead with over half the season gone. St. Pauli, of course, are going to want a win to put them back in the running and to keep the pressure on us. I won’t be completely unappy with a draw, especially given that are sporting a most impressive 7-2-1 home record, having scored 21 times to the opposition’s four. Sure, a win is always the goal, but I’m no loon.

St. Pauli (4-4-2): Hollerieth; Gibbs, Gunesch, Stanislawski, Nascimento; Moheit, Nickenig, di Biccari, Hupkes; Franciel, Haas

Dresden (4-4-2): ): Kresic; Langen, Breinburg, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Frölich, Wagefeld, Däbritz; Markovic, Janssen

When Andre Moheit flicks an absolute crap goal right past Kresic in the first minute, I know we’re in a bad way. When Däbritz punches the best chance we have at equalizing into Hollerieth’s hands, I know we’re not going to have a good day. The team doesn’t play all that badly as a whole, but Kresic is utter, utter crap today, letting in four soft, soft, soft, soft goals that sink us.

Final Score – FC St. Pauli 4:1 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Andre Moheit

After the game, I make sure to express my disappointment with Kresic after the game. If he had really played like the game it was, we wouldn’t be a mere three points ahead now, we would’ve at least been right back where we started, at six points up. But his attempts at saves, those he attempted were god-awful, and I’d like to make sure everyone knows it. If you’re going to fold like that in big matches, I have no place for you in my squad. If he plays this way in our upcoming game against Schalke 04 Under-23s, I’ll consider dropping him for a game or two. That said, I honestly can’t expect but so much out of a 37-year old man.

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Take a deep breath, still 3 points in front. Hope you manage it in the right way for a title-run. Keep on going,exciting and thrilling point now in the season icon_smile.gif

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>You know what happens when Web Access goes down for nearly a week on your campus! A huge update like this one.

Dixie, Nygreen, thank you. A lot. It does mean a lot. PMLF, Santos won the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian First Division. Any other questions, feel free to ask! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

February 20th, 2004

Practice throughout the week hasn’t been the most jovial of places, and I’ve been entirely compliant in making it that way. I was not pleased with the standard of play in our last match, obviously, and, after singling out Kresic especially (the fans really ripped into him on the message board) I’m venting towards other players on the squad who I felt were, at best, sub-par. I personally refuse to preside over a team that goes 18 games of pure bliss before completely folding and giving away any prospects of success. If this squad would like to do that, they’ll go through hell in the process, of that I’ll make sure.

Either way, I’m putting a great deal of focus on tomorrow’s match up with Münster, and doing my best to make sure every single player understands that giving away three more points is absolutely not an option. Yes, earlier in the year we were a fringe team, but now we’re championship-caliber, and we’re going to do our damndest to make a run at the title.

February 21st, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 21: Dynamo Dresden v. Münster

3rd-placed Münster is going to, ostensibly, bring their A-Game to today’s fixture, but the very spectre of taking this team on at home must surely be a bit of a hit to their morale. I’m expecting a win, a win. Not a draw, not a loss, a win. Three points will be the only way to make up for our previous failure, and preferably three convincing points while we’re at it. Moreover, to be perfectly honest, I wish we were taking on Münster on the road. This team needs to put together a good road game to really bolster its morale.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Neubert, Okereke

Münster (3-5-2): Gößling; Nischkowsky, Schyrba, Matarazzo; Bäumer, Hayer, Woidtke, Harf, Schäper; Milde, Gockel

With Däbritz dropped from the lineup for being spectacularly unspectacular, I’m hoping Scholze will give us some new verve down the right flank. So when he draws an early corner, I’m already happy with his performance. Said corner, taken by Neubert is headed out of the box back to the striker by Brenes. Neubert, showing a vision I honestly didn’t know if he had, flights a perfectly weighted chip to the edge of the penalty arc that is met on the volley by, of all people, Dion Dickhoff in spectacular style, arrowing the ball right into the back of the net for the lead on two minutes.

Dickhoff, who came on for the never-quite-impressive Breinburg, is all over the defense, and his tackle begins another move on 10 minutes that ends with Brenes nicely sliding a cross through the box that Neubert, showing an amount of class that you’d expect out of a striker much older than him expertly side-foots into the right side of the net to put us 2-0 up after 10 minutes.

Perhaps it’s something about Münster’s tactics, but we’re all over them for the next 35 minutes, shot after shot flying in on Gößling’s net, as our attacking form seems to be just too much for their defense, and their midfield is not doing its job in defense. But we can’t convert all of those chances into a goal, sadly, and, as time begins to tick away in the 2nd half, I’m left wondering if a simple change in form from Münster could yield a sudden turn of fortune. Relentlessly, I’m still urging the boys forward, to go for the killing strike to put our opponents away for good and give the game to us.

It’s a shame that the one-two that Scholze and Shuaibu play on 72 minutes manages to fool two Münster defenders, but it does, and Scholze, who’s been making a real case for the permanent job on the right flank, darts into the box and crosses quickly to the penalty spot. Okereke’s attempt at a header, while well-intentioned, isn’t well-timed, and the ball glances just off his head and falls flat. First to it, however, is Neubert, and, calm as can be, his finish is perfect, putting the game out of reach.

Okereke and Scholze manage to add two more in fine form before things end, Okereke on a towering header, Scholze on a stinging right-foot volley, but by then we’re just tacking on more to make our goal differential look that much better.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 5:0 Münster

MoM – José Brenes

After the game, I give the team some congratulations, but now a lot. As far as I’m concerned, St. Pauli punched a real hole in our armor, and I won’t have a real feeling about how our season will end until after our game against Schalke 04 Under-23s. However, on the upside, St. Pauli did only put in a paltry draw with dead-last Kiel, a disappointment to be sure, meaning our lead extends to five points clear.

We have 13 games remaining now, 7 at home, 6 on the road. Winning those home games is most important, and grinding out results in the road games is next on the list. More than anything, we can’t drop points stupidly.

February 25th, 2004

The first leg of the Second Round of the Champions Cup is today, with the marquee matchup not proving nearly as close as people might have hoped, as Arsenal is embarrassed at home by Real Madrid, who, on the strength of two fine goals from the ever-consistent ( icon_wink.gif ) Raúl coast to a 2-0 victory. Inter Milan thrash Ajax 4-1 as Cristian Vieri reminds the world of his class, scoring twice and assisting on the other two goals as Inter Milan continue their positive season. Manchester United win the first leg of their clash with Newcastle, Paul Scholes’ 57th-minute strike proving the difference in a game that was Newcastle will feel emboldended by for the return leg in St. James’s. And, in the shock of the day, PSV Eindhoven really take their chances, and, despite being outshot 9-3, they make those three count, defeating reigning champions AC Milan 3-0 at the Phillips Stadion.

Here’s the roundup of all of today’s scores…

Arsenal 0:2 Real Madrid

FC Bayern 1:0 Dinamo Kiev

FC Copenhagen 1:1 Chelsea

Inter Milan 4:1 Ajax

Juventus 2:1 VfB Stuttgart

Man Utd 1:0 Newcastle

Olympiakos 1:1 Lazio

PSV 3:0 AC Milan

The media here isn’t thrilled with Germany’s prospects for being represented in the Quarter-Finals. Dinamo Kiev battled all the way with FC Bayern, as only Roque Santa Cruz’s 89th-minute goal gave the German giants any sort of edge heading back to Kiev for the next leg, while VfB Stuttgart does have a vital away goal, and will be returning home for their next match, but will have to get past a tough Juventus defense to progress. FC Bayern is still expected to do the deed however, so far in the competition they’ve only allowed a single goal.

February 26th, 2004

Thomas Richter, now 33 and relegated to the Dynamo Dresden II team after I found out he wasn’t very good has announced that he’ll be retiring from the game at the end of the year. Given that players like Breinburg and Dickhoff will be returning to their particular clubs at the end of the season, and that, on the practice field he hasn’t been all that bad, I feel as if I might want to try and talk him out of it. He could have his use next season, if he can be consistent. If. Sure, he’s rated a 5.75 so far this year, but we don’t really have anyone else qualified to play the center of defense for next year, and I don’t have much (any) money to burn on new talent.

February 27th, 2004

Schalke 04 Under-23s managed to defeat Saschen Leipzig today 2-0, moving them to 43 points from 22 games, a game ahead of us and three points behind. Our March 14th match with them is looming larger and larger.

Febuary 28th, 2004

Another damnable road game. Would I have it so we could play every game at home. Of course, so would everyone else.

German Regional Division North – Game 22: Wuppertal v. Dynamo Dresden

With Wuppertal 8th and not in a title race, this game means a lot more to us than it does to them. That said, I’m not looking to break up any team chemistry, and the team sheet from last week’s demolition of Münster doesn’t change.

Wuppertal (5-3-2): Maly; Hörster, Baumann, Mehnert, Narewsky, Bach; Gensler, Meyer, Flock; Terranova, Kohout

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Neubert, Okereke

It’s a wet, horrible day at the Stadion am Zoo, and the rain doesn’t let up for a moment from kickoff. With the pitch nearly slop, it’s quite difficult for any real good passing plays to get strung together, and close ball control seems to be the way towards victory early, but that doesn’t mean there’s no passing, as Wagefeld manages to free Neubert with a smart through ball that sends the striker streaking diagonally towards the touchline. With his marker doing a good job of making sure he can’t turn in on net, Neubert swings his leg and flicks a cross into the box that Okereke, a full two yards ahead of his man meets at the penalty spot and cheekily nods up and over Maly and into the back of the net for the opener on 14 minutes.

Wuppertal, apparently not looking to make life easy for us, come roaring back however, and on 19 minutes Meyer takes it upon himself to attempt to kill me, picking up a loose ball first time and absolutely drilling a banana shot from nearly 35 yards that somehow bends its way in on net, only to have Kresic, reacting far too late for my own personal likes, leap and paw it away to keep us in the lead. Flock isn’t so unlucky five minutes later though, a shoddy clearance landing right at the edge of the penalty arc for him to arrow home from 20 yards for the equalizer.

With everything to play for, we begin to attempt to lay siege to Wuppertal’s net, with Neubert painfully denied on 36 minutes on a bending 15-yard shot that Maly manages to push onto the post and away from the goal mouth. Maly is apparently on his game today, and makes another fine save on 42 minutes, stopping a first-time Brenes volley from a Langen cross at point-blank range in rather spectacular form. However, Okereke is there, thankfully, to stab the ball just past the keeper and to push us into the league.

We spend the second half playing a most entertaining back-and-forth seesaw game with Wuppertal that has me nearly tearing my hair out on the sidelines. Kohout is let down by his finishing on 61 minutes, a one-on-one chance with Kresic being shot right into the Croat’s chest. Meanwhile, we just can’t seem to slip it past Maly, as Heitung, on as a sub for Neubert goes on a mazy run down the left, evading two defenders before knifing in on net from an angle that proved just too extreme, pinging the ball off the left post and back into the grateful clutches of Maly. With every moment that passes, the possibility of Wuppertal managing a late winner increases, a fact that becomes even worse as Brenes comes off on 89 minutes, leaving us a man short. The three minutes of stoppage time somehow end up as four, and I’m screaming at the fourth ref when finally the whistle is blown and we can relax.

Final Score – Wuppertal 1:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Uche Okereke

After the game, it’s real congratulations all around. We did everything we needed to, and our defense came up absolutely huge at the end, snuffing out no less than four Wuppertal opportunities that could’ve turned into goals. Kresic himself, while not stellar, was good exactly when we needed him to be, which, honestly, is all anyone is ever looking for in a goalkeeper. Now we’re six points ahead, looking towards a match with 12th-placed Neümunster before our clash with Schalke 04.

Thankfully, it turns out that Brenes only bruised his head, and will be available for the next match.

March 6th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 23: Dynamo Dresden v. Neümunster

What I love about this part of the season, is that there’s a real urgency to all the games. Once March comes around, when the winter begins to melt away and the spring begins to shine, attitudes begin to change, teams either hold their nerve or falter and fall. For us… well, this has been a dream first season in charge. We were supposed to finish respectably, and now we’re fighting to finish top. Promotion would mean a lot to this team, and to me.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Wagefeld, Frölich, Scholze; Janssen, Okereke

Neümunster (4-4-2): Freidrich; Schröder, Westphal, Gersdorf, Schmidt; Vargas, Drewes, Hey, Petersen; Zoric, Reibe

Urgency does not necessarily mean a “good†game however, especially when your opponent comes out as negatively as Neümunster does. They’ve basically parked all eleven men right infront of their area, and aren’t venturing forward for anything short of a sure breakaway, which they don’t get. Thankfully, continued pressure forces a mistake, a heavy shove on Tim Janssen sending Scholze to the spot to give this painfully boring encounter one moment of glory, which he does, in clinical form as always.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 1:0 Neümunster

MoM – Andre Freichrich

After the game, there’s only outstandingly good news, being that, thanks to St. Pauli turning in an awful 0-0 draw with Uerdingen and Schalke 04 Under-23s losing 1-0 to Chemnitz on the road, we are all of nine points clear of the nearest opposition, with St. Pauli, Schalke 04 Under-23s and Münster all stuck on 43 points to our 52. Meaning that we’ve got a very, very comfortable lead going into our fixture with Schalke 04 (A). I’m still tentative, although the pundits have not been holding back in their praise. However, if we manage to go ten points up with ten remaining to play, short of a colossal loss of form, I’d back us to walk away this season, at the very least, preparing to play at a new level next year.

March 10th, 2004

Raúl continues his systematic torture of Arsenal today, scoring twice in the first seven minutes to guide Real Madrid to a 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu and a 4-1 on aggregate over the Premeirship-leading team. Meanwhile, AC Milan prove they’ve got the mettle to repeat as kings, turning a 3-0 deficit around today with a stunning 5-0 demolition of PSV Eindhoven to send the Italian side through to the next round. Andriy Shevchenko nets a most spectacular hat-trick in the process as Milan cruise. And finally, VfB Stuttgart slips through on away goals today after a 1-0 victory over last year’s runners-up Juventus in a result that noone was really expecting. A gutsy performance from Stuttgart was culminated in a 61st minute header from Andreas Hinkel that sank the Old Lady of Turin.

Here’s the full scores (Aggregate scores in parenthesis)….

Ajax (3) 2:2 (6) Inter Milan

Chelsea (4) 3:0 (1) FC Copenhagen

Dinamo Kiev (1) 1:1 (2) FC Bayern

Lazio (4) 3:3 (4) Olympiakos (Olympiakos advance on the Away Goals Rule.)

AC Milan (5) 5:0 (3) PSV Eindhoven

Newcastle (0) 0:1 (2) Man Utd

Real Madrid (4) 2:1 (1) Arsenal

VfB Stuttgart (2) 1:0 (2) Juventus (VfB Stuttgart advance on the Away Goals Rule.)

March 14th, 2004

After playing a part in Costa Rica’s Gold Cup win, Costa Rica manager Jose Quesada wants our man on the left flank, José Brenes to play for country once more as the Central American nation vies for World Cup qualification. Good for him.

German Regional Division North – Game 24: Schalke 04 Under-23s v. Dynamo Dresden

There are two teams with unblemished home records this season. Us, with a 10-1-0 record that we’re very, very proud of, and Schalke 04, with a 9-2-0 record. Tack on that Schalke have only allowed three goals against while at home and I’m thinking that, even with the best intentions, that we’ll be fighting an uphill battle. All of this said, the last time we played them, we blew them out 4-0, and St. Pauli, who played and won yesterday are two ahead of them and seven behind us. This should be a great match, both teams will want, more than anything, to win.

Schalke 04 (4-4-2): Lenz; Hoogland, Adamu, Kläsener, Petereit; Büskens, Prang, Hajnal, Pinto; Schiller, Delura

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Wagefeld, Frölich, Scholze; Janssen, Markovic

There are good omens, and there are great omens. Neither of those words accurately describe how we’re feeling when Goran Markovic turns his back to his marker, traps the ball and, in one fluid motion, flicks it right to a streaking and completely unmarked Tim Janssen (of all people not to mark!) who crashes it home into the back of the net after a mere 1:31 has ticked off the clock.

From there, things only get worse for Schalke, as the early goal and continued pressure begins to spell panic in their ranks. Struggling to properly deal with our attacking form, they’re making all sorts of mistakes and bad judgements, the worst of which coming on six minutes, Petereit keeping Markovic from connecting with a Brenes cross in the easiest manner possible, through a firm, good shove that the referee kindly spots. A point to the penalty spot, up steps Scholze, 2-0 Dresden.

With a defensive lapse and a penalty already under their belt, Schalke make it a trifecta of defensive blunders on 13 minutes, Kläsener needlessly holding back Janssen and earning himself a Red Card and an early bath. At that point completely beaten, Schalke never threaten, and we punch in two more for good measure.

Final Score – Schalke 04 Under-23s 0:4 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Tim Janssen

After the game, we’re nine points clear of our closest opposition, and in absolutely ridiculously good spirits. Not only is it a road win, but it’s a dominating road win against the next best home team in the Division. We’ve stamped our authority here, and if we weren’t favorites to go up before, we sure as heck are now.

March 19th, 2004

I’ve forgotten to catch you up on some competitions that don’t involve us. So here they are.

The Euro 2004 Groups have been decided, and here’s how they’ll look…

Group A: Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece

Group B: Belgium, Denmark, England, Wales

Group C: Holland, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden

Group D: Czech Republic, Italy, Scotland, Turkey

Group C is the closest thing to a “group of death†this year, with Portugal and Holland expected to still finish 1-2 but ostensibly, Sweden and Ireland could cause a lot of trouble and might pull of a surprise before it’s all said and done.

On the club side, the Quarter-Finals are all set up in the Champions Cup, here’s the draw…

Olympiakos v. AC Milan

Chelsea v. VfB Stuttgart

FC Bayern v. Man Utd

Inter Milan v. Real Madrid

Ostensibly, AC Milan should make it through to the next round, but after that it’s a bit of a toss up, with every other side having an honest chance, should their current European form hold. Here’s hoping they’ll give us some entertaining play on the way to the end of the Champions Cup.

March 20th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 25: Dynamo Dresden v. Paderborn

Now that we’re fully nine points ahead with ten to play, we can’t quite relax, you can never do that, but we can begin to take our foot off the gas. A little, but not a lot. I’m fully expecting St. Pauli to try and make a late run at us, and so the goal is to keep the lead as big as we can for as long as we can until we’ve clinched promotion.

After our big win against Schalke, the teamsheet doesn’t change for today’s fixture.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Brenes, Wagefeld, Frölich, Scholze; Janssen, Markovic

Paderborn (3-5-2): Keller; Krösche, Waterink, Bollmann; Maaß, Lorenz, Hakan, Niestroj, Cartus; Lytollis, Donkov

Paderborn start the game very cagey, while, as always, I’m encouraging a smart, well-thought attack from my players. Thankfully, today, the passes we need to be hitting to have a shot at scoring are all finding friendly feet, and Keller’s getting a workout, evidenced early in the goings as Scholze raps one against his post within 10 minutes of the start, and Heidrich forces a smart save from a 25-yard blast. Keller isn’t superman today though, and bad fouls near the area always spell trouble. And, on 37 minutes, from a position nearly straight-on net, Heidrich shows why it is so, drilling a 22-yard freekick right into Keller’s net, leaving the keeper completely flat-footed.

With Paderborn looking mostly toothless in attack, once again thanks to the tireless work of men like Maik Wagefeld and Volker Oppitz, the 50th-minute header from Goran Markovic isn’t a surprise in as much as it is expected. Tack on one more for Tim Janssen, and you’ve got yourself three goals and three points.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 3:0 Paderborn

MoM – Steffen Heidrich

Another weekend gone, and there’s a real contrast in the media stories about us today. On the one hand, they must mention that St. Pauli’s 2-2 draw with Eintracht Braunschweig has extended their unbeaten run in the league to an amazing 22 games. And yet, still, they must mention that they are now, thanks to the draw, eleven points behind us. For St. Pauli it’s a matter of blown chances. They’ve drawn a Division-high 11 times this season, and if five of those draws are wins, they’re four points ahead of us.

March 24th, 2004

The Quarter-Finals of the Champions Cup get started today, and there are only two wins to go around. Real Madrid ends up regretting giving up Zinedine Zidane, as the ex-Madrid midfielder puts in a virtuoso performance in helping Inter Milan defeat Real Madrid 3-0. Meanwhile, Olympiakos fights AC Milan to a nil-nil draw, while Manchester United and FC Bayern bash their way to a 1-1 draw in Munich. And lastly, a 93rd-minute strike from Jesper Gronkjaer gives Chelsea the edge as they slip past VfB Stuttgart 1-0.

April 4th, 2004

I don’t think I’ve been happier in my life to see April come around. Mainly because it means that we’re that much closer to the end of the season. Only nine games left…

German Regional Division North – Game 26: Dortmund (A) v. Dynamo Dresden

Dortmund’s amateur team has put together a surprisingly good campaign this year, currently 5th in the Division. That said, we’ve had enough success against these “Amateur†and “Under-23†sides this year that I’m expecting three points from this encounter.

Dortmund (3-4-1-2): Rose; Winkler, Bisser, Berg; Wagner, Sasy, Mohr, Metzelder; Westphal; Wanke, Seifert

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Dickhoff, Oppitz, Shuaibu; Ziebig, Wagefeld, Heidrich, Scholze; Neubert, Okereke

For the first time in a long time, I’m feeling entirely victimized in a game, as we rack up four completely indefensible yellow cards within the first 30 minutes of the game. Much worse Kresic’s up to his old flapping tricks again, standing flat-footed on 41 minutes as Westphal fires the most paltry goal past hin and into the right side of the net.

To their credit, Dortmund’s back line is doing a fine job of forcing us into stupid 20-30 yard blasts that have no shot of making it on net. Perhaps it’s because of missing players, like Brenes, but our offensive ability is shot today, and we slump our way to a pretty pathetic loss.

Final Score – Dortmund (A) 1:0 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Dirk Seifert

While it’s a crappy loss, we don’t lose any ground, and are still eleven points ahead with eight to play now.

April 7th, 2004

FC Bayern and Manchester United have a history at this point, and an extra chapter to that history gets written tonight as the two European giants engage in a back-and-forth edge-of-your-seat clash for passage to the Champions Cup Semi-Finals. And, after an early strike from Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Jens Jeremies’ equalizer to send the game into extra time, not to mention no less than six game-saving saves from both Oliver Kahn and Tim Howard, finally, on 110 minutes, the Dutchman strikes again, lashing home a volley from 15 yards to dump Bayern out of the Champions Cup.

None of the other games quite stack up in terms of excitement, but here’s the roundup of scores…

AC Milan (2) 2:0 (0) Olympiakos

Man Utd (3) 2:1 (2) FC Bayern

Real Madrid (0) 0:1 (4) Inter Milan

VfB Stuttgart (0) 0:1 (2) Chelsea

Needless to say, there’s a good bit of disappointment here in Germany that no teams will be representing the nation in the last four, as was (and is frequently) expected.

Meanwhile, the news from Turkey this week is that Galatasaray have run away with the Turkish Premier Division championship, winning it with six games left to play, after extending their ridiculous lead to 19 points over Beskitas. Obviously, it’s been an absolute dream season for Galatasaray this year, adding their 16th Premier Division trophy to their cabinet in some style, leading the Division in both Goals Scored (75) and Goals Against (25). And there’s still six games to be played.

April 9th, 2004

Kiel, who have been perfectly awful this season (they’ve got a 100% record on the road, 0-0-14) and have culled a measly nine points from 26 games finally have the inevitable come to pass today, as they are relegated from the German Regional Division North after a 3-0 loss to Dortmund (A).

April 10th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 27: Dynamo Dresden v. RW Essen

Some minor changes to the team tactics, and we’re going to hope that our offense can find its teeth again. Our lead is just about insurmountable, but screwing it up isn’t in my plans.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Oppitz, Dickhoff, Shuaibu; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Markovic, Janssen

Essen (4-4-2): Kirschstein; Weigelt, Baumann, Lorenz, Sümnich; Tutas, Lintjens, Wedeau, Goldbaek; Wolf, Köhler

A slow game is a slow game any way you spell it. After Dortmund’s win, Essen is looking to employ the same kind of strategy to get a point or a win our of today’s fixture, grinding it out in midfield, closing down constantly at the back, never allowing us a moment of time to think, especially in gravitating towards the wings to stop our offensive adventures there. Much of the work ends up being left to our strikers, which just isn’t the best of offensive decisions, but, thankfully, Essen give us a hand, as Baumann’s attempt to deflect Janssen’s cross across the goalmouth works, but not in the way he had hoped, as the ball comes off his shin and bounces right into the corner of the Essen net.

That’s all it takes, as Essen fairly limp their way through the remaining minutes of the game as we coast to another victory.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 1:0 RW Essen

MoM – Ronny Scholze

Our lead stays at eleven points with the win. With seven left to play, if we can pick up another three wins or so, we should be having a very, very happy summer.

Meanwhile, the Champions Cup sets up for the Semi-Finals. Here’s the draw…

Man Utd v. AC Milan

Inter Milan v. Chelsea

Needless to say, the possibility for an all-England final or, alternatively, an Milan derby in the final has everyone excited about the results. None of these teams have been playing negative football this season, so there’s a real, genuine hope that they’ll give us some genuinely entertaining games.

April 21st, 2004

The Champions Cup Semis start today favoring the home sides, as Manchester United immediately benefits off an unlikely penalty miss from Andriy Shevchenko in the 5th minute to come roaring at their Italian opposition, scoring on either side of halftime, one from the precocious Portuguese talent Cristiano Ronaldo, the other from fan-favorite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that leaves last year’s champions returning home for the second leg in an unfortunate 2-0 hole on aggregate.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan, who are putting together one of there best seasons ever, with the chancing for a treble, only a point out of the lead in Serie A, in the Italian Cup final, and now seemingly on their way to the Champions Cup final after a 3-0 thrashing of a completely hapless and lackluster Chelsea side today that looked in no way like the caliber of side people would’ve expected of them. Goals from Christian Vieri, Alvaro Recoba and Mohammed Kallon did the trick, although by all means they should’ve scored more. Chelsea will really have to turn things around and find their offensive bite to get through on the return leg in London.

April 24th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 29: Dynamo Dresden v. Saschen Leipzig

At this point, with the title nearly ours, it’s good to know that teams like Dortmund (A) and St. Pauli are all more concerned at making a final run at taking the second promotion place than trying to put together a run to steal the championship away from us. For us, a major goal is now in reach. If we win today, and if St. Pauli and Schalke 04 Under-23s both lose, we will win promotion to the German Second Division.

Dresden (4-4-2): Kresic; Langen, Oppitz, Dickhoff, Shuaibu; Brenes, Heidrich, Wagefeld, Scholze; Markovic, Janssen

Leipzig (5-3-2): Rechner; Marso, Bergner, Grissman, Bach, Bleau; Ferl, Kemble, Bruns; Meissner, Bongard

Well, we’re putting our fans to sleep at this rate, as the season winds down the results are becoming less and less… well, entertaining. That said, I don’t think anyone’s unhappy with three more points, even if we’re putting everyone for miles asleep in the process. Were that things would be better if not for our opponents adopting a policy of getting as many men back as humanly possible and waiting for our way, way, way too overezealous midfielders to fire off shots from 20-yards that have more of a chance of spontaneously combusting than going in the net. That said, if a goal is all it takes, as long as people like Dexter Langen are around to slip balls from a tiny angle past the keeper, we’ll live.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 1:0 Saschen Leipzig

MoM – Michael Rechner

Of course, neither of the teams we need to lose, so we won’t be able to celebrate at home with our fans, like I know I’d prefer to.

April 29th, 2004

I’d like to think that the measure of a great season isn’t just winning, but winning by a lot. So two teams across Europe have had very, very good seasons.

First, here in Germany, FC Bayern have fought off Leverkusen’s push to absolutely streak away with the title, clinching the Bundesliga title for themselves today with three games left to play. Ten points ahead of 2nd-placed Leverkusen, Bayern’s quality saw them through in the end, a record of 21-6-4 proving to more than what was needed to see of their competition.

And, in England, Arsenal have absolutely blown away all the competition, winning the Premiership today with four games left on their schedule. How dominant has Arsenal been? Well, if the standings stay the way they are, they’ll finish a ridiculous 18 points ahead of rivals Manchester United, and more than 20 ahead of any other teams. Moreover, one of the most stunning parts of their 29-2-3 record this year? A 15-1-0 mark posted at Highbury this season.

May 1st, 2004

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Whoop! Missed one, sorry. We knock off Chemnitz on the road, 5-0, but still don’t clinch. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

May 2nd, 2004

So it’s all just a waiting game now. With four games left on the schedule, and 14 points ahead of Dortmund (A), it shouldn’t be that much longer until we can finally lift the Championship Trophy over our heads, which will be a most entertaining experience, I’m sure.

With Dortmund playing today, I gather the team at the training ground and flick on the radio during training, to keep us updated on the score as they take on HSV (A). Needless to say, today’s training session isn’t exactly focused, as we’re splitting as much time listening to the highlights as we are actually attempting to kick the ball around. Our hearts notably sink a bit as Ralf Mohr scores for Dortmund in the 6th minute however, and with Dortmund at home, HSV will have quite a task ahead of them.

A small crowd of our supporters begins to gather as we go over the happenings, hoping as much for a good result as we are. And, when the news comes that HSV have equalized just before the half, it’s impossible for me to stifle the smile. Moreover, as their game drags on, and minute after minute ticks away, training itself comes to an end as we huddle around the radio, the last few seconds of time eking away in Dortmund until the final, 1-1 draw is announced, meaning exactly what we’ve been hoping for for months.

We’re going up!

We’re not only going up, we’re going up as Champions of the division, something that every single player on this team has to be proud of given where we were supposed to be this season. We’ve done something really special here, that’s for sure.

Still, I keep our celebrations, for now, a little muted. As far as I’m concerned, we’re not really champions until the German FA shows up after our game this weekend against 1.FC Köln (A) and hands us the trophy.

May 5th, 2004

The second leg of the Champions League Semi-Finals play today, and for two sets of fans, it’s absolutely gut-wrenching.

First, at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea put up a absolutely heroic fight, coming back from a 3-0 aggregate deficit, goals from Verón, Makéléle and Crespo, the latter a stunning 30-yard strike with five minutes left to play, sending the game into extra-time. Moreover, with neither team able to find the advantage there, it’s left to penalties, and, for all of their heroics, Chelsea just can’t hold their nerve, Geremi’s miss allowing Zizou to step up and send Cudicini the wrong way, putting Inter Milan through to their first Champions Cup final since 1972.

Meanwhile, AC Milan’s effort against Manchester United comes up just, just short, despite coming back from a 2-0 aggregate deficit with goals from Cafú and Kaká to send the game into Silver Goal extra time, and a 109th-minute strike seeming to surely send the defending kings back to the final, but, Manchester United still has but one trick up their sleeve, as Kléberson absolutely breaks hearts in Milan, striking with a 118th-minute blast that just evades Dida and slips into the net to grant Manchester United another trip to the Champions Cup final.

May 6th, 2004

The UEFA Cup, which, as you can tell, I don’t pay much attention to, sets up its final today with Deportivo and Parma both making it through to the final of “the other†European cup competition.

May 8th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 31: Dynamo Dresden v. 1.FC Köln Under-23s

Now that we’ve earned promotion, the rest of the games this year are, for the most part, throw-aways, not that I’m going to press the team for anything short of four more wins. That said, I’m not going to give you quite as much detail as with our other fixtures this year. That said, it’s just as well for this game, as there’s not much to talk about until 74 minutes, when Scholze bends a 25-yard beauty of a freekick around the wall and into the net to give us the lead. Okereke then strikes twice before the final whistle, to make sure that we’re not just celebrating promotion today.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 3:0 1.FC Köln Under-23s

MoM – Uche Okereke

After the game, we’re presented with the Regional Division North trophy by the German FA, and Maik Wagefeld is the first to lift it as we roar our success with our supporters. Our critics call us “overachievers†and say that next year we’ll come crashing back down to earth. I think, if this team plays as well as they know they can’ we’ll be a surprise next season too, and that’s all I could possibly ask for.

Meanwhile, in the Regional Division South, Stuttgarter Kickers and 1.FC Eschborn both get promoted to the German Second Division today, Stuttgarter as the champions, and 1.FC Nürnberg is promoted to the First Division. Myself, I’m becoming increasingly anxious to find our what the German Second Division will be like, and how next season will treat us.

May 9th, 2004

Now I understand why club managers hate international play so much.

José Brenes, our revelation on the left side of midfield this season was featuring in Costa Rica’s game against El Salvador today in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers for 2006. In a challenge with one of El Salvador’s players, Brenes collided with him, and had to be stretchered off the field. The report? A broken leg. Brenes, who has been so valuable through the games we’ve played this year, will be missing for at least six months, and won’t be back until November of next season, at best.

Meanwhile, Oberhausen joins Regensburg in falling out of the German Second Division, getting relegated today. There are still two spots open, and three teams fighting for their lives, so the ending there should prove very interesting.

May 10th, 2004

Titles are just getting handed out like party favors today, apparently.

First off, Inter Milan win the Serie A title, while in Spain, Real Madrid take the Primera Liga for themselves, and Marseille easily win the French First League title. Of the three, the most interesting was Inter Milan’s title, snatching it away from the groping hands of AC Milan. Now, Inter Milan has a chance for a historic double, taking both the domestic and European club titles for themselves. Opposing them in this endeavor will be a Manchester United team that will be looking to write their names on both the FA Cup and the Champions Cup to make up for being blown out of the domestic league by Arsenal (who they’ll have to take on to win the FA Cup, unsurprisingly).

May 15th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 32: Dynamo Dresden v. Kiel

The major point of interest in this game is that this is Kiel’s last chance to improve their 0-1-15 away record to a slightly less embarrassing 1-1-15. Problem being, we’re not looking to put any blemishes on our home record, so Kiel is SOL. It only takes 15 minutes for us to put them away, but we tack on a few more goals for good measure after the fact.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 5:0 Kiel

MoM – Goran Markovic

Meanwhile, Inter’s chance at a treble is ruined, although it wasn’t much of a chance before, as they lose to Roma in the Italian Cup Final, 5-2 on aggregate after today’s 1-1 draw. The double is still there for them, and that’s not exactly getting short-shrifted.

Meanwhile, Hannover 96 and Rostock end horrific seasons in the First Division today with relegation. Rostock, in true football form, immediately fire their manager, Juri Schlunz once the team has gone down.

May 16th, 2004

Going Up: Cottbus and Burghausen are headed for the German First Division.

Going Down: Lübeck and Osnabrück fall from the German Second Division.

May 19th, 2004

The UEFA Cup Final comes to pass today, with Parma taking on Deportivo in a clash of teams that are looking to take something positive from this season, Deportivo a distant 2nd to Real Madrid and Parma a disappointing 8th in Serie A. And, there doesn’t seem to be much in the game until the 2nd half, when traffic begins to turn Parma’s way. Still, it’s not until extra-time and 102 minutes when a goalmouth scramble is finally poked home by Parma’s Adriano to bring Parma its third UEFA Cup triumph in a decade.

May 22nd, 2004

Two cup finals and two late goals seal victory for two different teams today. First, here, FC Bayern do the double for the second year in a row after beating Hamburger SV 1-0 today, thanks to a goal in the 2nd minute of stoppage time from Akin Serhat that puts the cherry on top of a domestically dominant season for the continually powerful German juggernaut.

Meanwhile, a Ruud van Nistelrooy goal in the 3rd minute of stoppage time grants Manchester United the FA Cup over Arsenal 1-0. While Manchester may not be pleased with their performance in the season, now with the Champions Cup final looming in four days time, they may be able to pull off a quite impressive double of their own, that is, if they can stop Inter Milan from doing their own double.

May 26th, 2004

Inter and Manchester United take each other on for the Champions Cup tonight, and it is what proves to be an entertaining game of football, with two quick early strikes from both times netting the score at 1-1. Sadly, both defenses stamped their authority on the game for much of the remainder of the game until the hero, Inter’s Mohammed Kallon took advantage of a Manchester defensive mistake, blasting home the winner in the 2nd minute of stoppage time to send Milan fans into raptures and Manchester fans home sorely unhappy. 2-1 is the final score, as Inter Milan lift the Champions Cup.

It’s a much-needed year of glory for Inter Milan, who pick up their first Serie A title since 1989 and their first Champions Cup triumph since 1965, the third one in the club’s history.

May 29th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 33: Wattenscheid v. Dynamo Dresden

91 degrees and humid. We melt, Wattenscheid walk away with an easy one. A gimmie. We’ll get them back for it at some point.

Final Score – Wattenscheid 2:0 Dynamo Dresden

MoM –Bastian Pinske

May 31st, 2004

The upside to the coming end of the season is that we’ll be receiving a good amount of money for the promotion, along with the fact that we’ve made a healthy three-quarter million dollars this year by keeping the teams wages low and fan interest up. (Winning helps).

The downside is spending some of that money to address concerns in the squad, like needing a new goalkeeper and central defender before next year. So now, we begin searching in earnest for new blood, new talent that we can pick up without having to splurge some $450K that we don’t have on his “talentsâ€.

June 5th, 2004

German Regional Division North – Game 34: Dynamo Dresden v. Uerdingen

A simple encounter to end the year, highlighted by Sebastian Hartung personally beating two Uerdingen defenders off one of their kickoffs, streaking downfield and knocking home a goal, and a 30-yard thunderbolt from Shuaibu that cracks the post before rattling home. A very, very nice way to end a very, very successful year.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:0 Uerdingen

MoM – Ishola Shuaibu

After the game, we do a victory lap for the 6000 supporters who have shown up to celebrate the last day of the season. As I said, the promotion is a real boost for the club, it’s taking them to a whole new place in German football, and people know our names now. We’ve become the “feel good†story of the 2003/04 season. I’m glad for it, the boys deserve all the praise, although I will be very sad to see our Loans, invaluable assets like Tim Janssen, Dion Dickhoff and Reinhard Breinburg leave the club. If they’re available next year, I will most certainly attempt to bring them back to Dresden for another season.

Meanwhile, our dear, dear “friends†St. Pauli have a lot to celebrate as well, winning promotion today despite losing on the final day of the year and finishing 4th, as Dortmund (A) and Schalke 04 Under-23s are not allowed to get promoted to the Second Division.

Our search for new blood isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. Working with the board’s generous estimates, I should be able to offer a few players between $50K and $110K a season, but no more than say two or three players. Problem is, most of the people we’re placing inquiries into are asking for $250K, $450K and so on, money that we do not have to spend.

June 8th, 2004

With all of our Loans ending today, it’s a little odd, and a little humorous for Reinhard Breinburg, our defender on Loan from Feyenoord to be awarded for the Regional Division North Goal of the Season, for his sublime volley on September 13th against Wuppertal. Myself, I think they gave him the award as much because that it was a fine strike as because he, of all people, somehow managed to score it.

June 10th, 2004

So, with the season over and Euro 2004 looming (although none of our players will be involved) let’s take a look at the squad, shall we?

Formation: 4-4-2

GK: Ignjac Kresic (37 y/o, CRO, GK): 34 apps, 31 Conc, 20 Cln, Av. Rate 6.56: Ignjac’s career is just about over, but he’s kept on plowing away anyway. But his numbers are misleading, every member of my staff thinks that Kresic was, at best, mediocre this year, and often just bad. It’s a testament to our defense that he never faced many shots this year, as many of those he did went sadly unsaved. We’ll hang onto him for next year, but everyone’s fully expecting Ignjac to take on a slightly reduced role in the team, and that we should have some new blood in soon.

DR: Ishola Shuaibu (23 y/o, NGA 6 caps/3 goals, D/AM R): 18 apps, 2 gls, 5 asts, 2 MoMs, Av. Rate 7.39: One of my smarter buys this season, there’s nothing but promise for Ishola out on the right flank. When I was looking for someone I could put on the right to at least solidify the wings of defense, Ishola has been the solution, averaging a surprising 3.52 tackles a game over the course of his time this season. A great pickup for the second half, I’m looking forward to seeing Ishola in a Dresden kit for a long time coming.

DL: Dexter Langen (23 y/o, GER, D/DM L): 33 apps, 2 gls, 4 asts, Av. Rate 7.29: A marauding force for us down the left this season, I can’t count the number of goals that involved, in some way, shape or form, Dexter Langen. Everyone on my staff is a “keen admirer†of his abilities, although many of us are interested in finding out how he’ll play next season, and if his lack of determination and willingness to put in the hardest work will really bite him in the butt. That said, this was a career year for the kid, and I hope he can give us more.

DC: Was Reinhard Breinburg or Dion Dickhoff, both now departed back to their original clubs.

DC: Volker Oppitz (26 y/o, GER, D C): 31 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, Av. Rate 7.11: Solid, would be the term for Volker this year. He mixed very, very well with the central defenders we took on Loan from other teams to create a strong backline that only surrendered 30 goals in 34 league games (although by the lopsided total of 28 conceded on the road, 2 at home) and was as dominant in the air as you could possibly ask a defender to be. Admittedly, I’d like him to be a little more aggressive and skilled in his challenges for the ball, but I can’t have any real complaints about his play this year.

MR: Ronny Scholze (23 y/o, GER, AM/F R): 26 (4) apps, 14 Gls, 6 Asts, 2 MoM, Av. Rate 7.31: What I’m about to say will sound absolutely ridiculous, I know, but I’m concerned about Ronny. He put in a stellar season for us this year, scoring more goals from the wing than any midfielder has a right to, and being spot-on from the penalty spot when we needed him to be. And, all of this said, this year’s performance was so good, I don’t know if he can follow it up next year. It’s known that he doesn’t have the blazing speed one might expect of someone playing his position, and the question on the mind of my staff and I is whether he can give us the same kind of effort against tougher competition.

ML: José Brenes (25 y/o, CRC 10 caps/1 goal, D/M L): 21 apps, 1 Goal, 11 Asts, 3 MoM, Av. Rate 7.63: Those numbers speak for themselves, not to mention the fact that I’ve somehow managed to grab one of the first-choice starters for the Costa Rican National Team. I can say without fear of contradiction that we will miss him dearly at the beginning of next year, as he recovers from his broken leg. Was an absolute gem of a find, and did everything you could’ve asked this year, on offense or defense, he was grand. A speedy, healthy return is desired.

MC: Mai

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MC: Maik Wagefeld (23 y/o, GER, DM C): 31 apps, 3 Gls, 4 Asts, 1 MoM, Av. Rate 7.13: One of my, and the fans favorite players, Maik just put the needed work in all this year, he would never give up, and I can’t count the number of times he’s nipped in to make a needed challenge and keep the opposition from making a play. Moreover, the few times I’ve needed to swap him, he’s been equally effective in the attack as in defense, so, to make a long story short, the starting place in the lineup is his to lose next season.

MC: Steffen Heidrich (36 y/o, GER, AM C): 17 apps, 2 Gls, 2 Asts, 1 MoM, Av. Rate 7.06: I feel we have a few problems as a team, a significant one being that we have to rely on a man whose career is coming to a conclusion for our offensive verve in midfield, a situation made worse when you realize that Heidrich’s own success is a byproduct of being surrounded by skilled players. While he is vocal and tough enough to be the team captain, he’s not skilled enough to be more than a fringe player now.

FC: Goran Markovic (28 y/o, SCG, F LC): 15 (4) apps, 14 Gls, 7 Asts, 3 MoM, Av Rate 7.16: Goran adjusted wonderfully to life in Germany, and to his new position, as he’d mostly been used as a midfielder or winger throughout his career, but he took to life infront of the net like a fish to water. When called upon, he was a threat that we needed, and, my staff and I can all say that, while he’ll never probably be a star, he does everything he needs to right. A goal-poacher of good caliber, short of another amazing Loan like Tim Janssen showing up, he’ll see 25-30 appearances next season.

FC: Thomas Neubert (23 y/o, GER, S C): 17 (8) apps, 11 Gls, 7 Asts, 1 MoM, Av. Rate 6.76: The next year or two will be make-or-break years for Thomas. He’ll either blossom into a deadly striker and use the talent he has to lead the line for this time like I’ve envisioned, or he’ll never quite pan out, and end up on the transfer list as I look elsewhere for consistency and skill. It certainly doesn’t seem like it should take much. Fast as a dart, but he needs to make his right foot as good for scoring as it currently is for passing. Here’s hoping.

On The Bench:

Oliver Herber (22 y/o, GER, GK) 1 (1) app, 3 Conc, 1 Cln, Av. Rate 6.00: Oliver won’t be anything more than a fringe player at the club, and his tepid performances in replacement of an inconsistent Kresic haven’t helped his stock any. Short of us being completely incapable of finding a new goalkeeper this offseason, he’ll be seeing just as much action next year, if not less.

Tom Hoffman (22 y/o, GER, D R): 7 (3) apps, Av. Rate 7.00: Would’ve been our starting right-back, if not for the sudden and happy arrival of Ishola. Still, a functional, skilled player who can/may play a role in our efforts next season, given that I cannot account for every little mishap that might/will happen.

Thomas Richter (33 y/o, GER, D C): Retiring. That’s all that I need to say.

Nico Däbritz (32 y/o, GER, DM RL): 13 (7) apps, 7 Asts, Av. Rate 6.65: Was just as versatile as I wanted him to be this season, and, while he is getting on in years, we should be able to eke another two years out of his legs before he calls it a career or we cut him loose. Having him as an option off the bench is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for next year, and given that he was reasonably effective in his time on the pitch, I’m hoping he’ll turn in good performances again.

Sven Johne (20 y/o, GER, M RC): 0 (8) apps, Av. Rate 6.00: Young, and still growing, everyone on the staff is a little iffy on where Sven’s going to be in another three to four years, and, while we’re all hoping, noone’s expecting too much from this young soul.

Rico Kühne (22 y/o, GER, M R): 1 (4) apps, 1 Ast, Av. Rate 6.80: See Sven Johne.

Ranisav Jovanovic (23 y/o, SCG, AM/F L): 8 apps, 1 Gl, 3 Asts, Av. Rate 7.25: Ranisav didn’t feature all that much this season, but when he did, he’s been a real “on the cusp†kind of player. If he makes the turn into a really skilled player (he’s already not bad) he could be a real player for the club, the only problem being that currently he’s behind Brenes on the depth chart. Of course, there’s the matter of whether Brenes might replace Langen, but those are issues for next year.

Daniel Ziebig (21 y/o, GER, AM/F L): 1 (6) apps, 1 Gl, Av. Rate 6.52: His crosses are great, but he’s not enough of a good player to be anything more than a fringe player on this team. He will probably find himself on the transfer list before the season comes to a close.

Christian Frölich (26 y/o, GER, AM C): 12 (5) apps, 1 Gl, Asts 2, Av. Rate 6.82: Our second option in the attack in midfield, Christian isn’t the best thing ever, and he’s not all that functional. I’ve explain to him already that if we do find someone with better passing ability to work the attack for this team, he may be riding the pine next season.

Uche Okereke (28 y/o, NGA, S C): 11 apps, 9 Gls, 5 Asts, Av. Rate 7.64: Instant impact would be the way to describe Uche’s effect on the team. Just as clinical infront of net as advertised, Uche’s speed and knowledge infront of net has been an absolute godsend to a team that needed someone who wasn’t on Loan to lead the front line. Uche can expect 30 starts next season, and I’ll be expecting him to make every one count.

June 12th, 2004

The local news is notable in some cases, and big. First is that Ishola Shuaibu has gotten the call from his nation to be part of the team who will take on Algeria in the African World Cup 2006 Qualifiers. Whether he’ll feature and grab himself another cap, I don’t know, but I’m wishing him the best of luck in his venture.

What’s big news for me is the fact that I might land one of the biggest prospects in football, or at least, he was. Freddy Adu, yes that Freddy Adu, signed much earlier this season with Argentine powerhouses Boca Juniors. Freddy’s time in Buenos Aires hasn’t been nice at the slightest however, and he’s found himself consigned to the Under-19s team, well behind domestic talents and languishing. After an apparent row with his manager, Carlos Bianchi, Adu has been placed on the transfer list. Apparently, I’m one of the few people to have picked up on this, and I’m placing frantic calls to Boca to try and secure the 15-year old’s services. According to his agent, Freddy would have no problem playing for our team and for me, although I’m sure he’d view the club as a stepping stone to future glory. That said, it’s just a matter if we can grab him. Freddy signed with Boca on the 14th of July last year, and according to FIFA rules, we can’t transfer him until after that date. That doesn’t, however, mean we can’t offer Boca a first-option on him for some substantial cash to make sure we’re first in the pecking order for his name.

Meanwhile, Euro 2004 kicks off with a flourish today, as Denmark defeats a resilient Wales team 3-1 to take the first points of the group stage of the competition. The match is quite the entertaining affair, Denmark going ahead on 40 minutes thanks to a strike from Jesper Gronkjaer, and Wales equalizing literally seconds before the half thanks to Craig Bellamy. But, with an in-form Ebbe Sand constantly creating trouble for the relatively weak Wales defense, it was only a matter of time before the Schalke 04 striker netted twice, sealing the game for the Euro 92 champions.

With the one of the premier International competitions in the world beginning today and domestic leagues around Europe finally coming to a close, let’s take a look at the big leagues and who did what, where.

England, as stated previous, was dominated this year by the sterling form of Arsenal, who managed a ridiculous 31-3-4 record, finishing with 96 points, fully 18 points ahead of 2nd-placed Chelsea, although Arsenal will consider the season still somewhat disappointing after being unable to pull any success from their FA Cup or Champions League campaigns. Chelsea, as noted, finished 2nd, with the top 5 reading just as the usual suspects in England usually do, with Manchester United 3rd, Liverpool 4th, and Newcastle 5th. The only real surprise was Leeds, who turned in a gorgeous season, finishing 7th, and the arrival of Antoine Sibierski, who punched home 20 goals for Manchester City this season.

France was dominated by Olympique Marseille and Didier Drogba, whose 25 goals pushed Marseille to their first title since the heady (and quite controversial) days of the early 90’s. Ten points behind Marseille is Lens, with Auxerre, Montpellier and Lille rounding out the top five, with usual stalwarts Lyon, Monaco and Paris-SG finishing 6th, 7th and 8th respectively, years that probably won’t ever be considered successes for those clubs.

Germany was won my, unsurprisingly, FC Bayern, whose 23-7-4 record helped them finish 10 points ahead of surprise 2nd-place side Kaiserslautern, as Bayern’s usual rivals for the title in recent years, Borussia Dortmund turned in a disappointing performance, finishing in 5th. With Leverkusen third and Hertha BSC 4th, the pundits are all talking about whether anyone new will finally throw Bayern off their throne next season. The surprise player this year? Golden Boot winner Alexander Iashvili of SC Freiburg, whose 23 goals capped off an absolute career year for the 26-year old striker, whose high before this was 24 in his early years with Dinamo Tblisi.

Ajax saw their chance at an undefeated season fall short in Holland this year as they quite literally fell at the final hurdle, losing their last game away NEC Nijmegen to ruin their shot at history. Ostensibly, what is also surprising is that, despite Ajax’s stunning 28-5-1 record, PSV Eindhoven only finished three points behind them. While Ajax’s Wesley Sonck led all scorers with 25 netted domestically, all the focus is being put upon Arjen Robben’s breakout season, netting 22 times for PSV and putting on a real Player of the Year performance. Surely, bigger clubs will beckon.

It was the year of Internazionale in Italy, winning the double in the Scudetto and the Champions Cup. Finishing four points ahead of rivals AC Milan will help, as fans and pundits alike hail the signing of Zinedine Zidane as a stroke of genius by club management. As stated, AC Milan finish 2nd, just barely ahead of Juventus who finished 3rd, and Roma who turns in 4th. Lazio rounds out the top five, as fans turn their eyes now to Euro 2004 in hopes that the Azzuri can bring European glory home once more.

Real Madrid went out and proved every single soul who said that selling Zinedine Zidane would kill them wrong this season, winning the Primera Liga in Spain in convincing form, seven points ahead of Deportivo and miles ahead of everyone else in terms of team quality. With Raúl netting a League-leading 22 goals, and Ronaldo punching home 18 more of his own (not to mention names like David Beckham, Luis Figo and Steed Malbranque putting in virtuoso performances in midfield), there was little doubt of how things would end, although the 4-0 aggregate defeat to Inter in the Champions league is an open wound. As stated, Deportivo finish 2nd, Real Sociedad 3rd, Valencia 4th and Barcelona a disappointing 5th.

June 13th, 2004

Ignjac Kresic gives us all the pleasure of accepting that his age is preventing him from putting in the best performances possible, and accepts that he will have a reduced role in the team next year. To that effect, he signs a new $14K a year deal that will have him wearing a Dresden jersey until 2009 or his retirement, whichever comes sooner.

Meanwhile, England takes on Belgium in another Group B encounter, as two second-half strikes from Michael Owen and Stephen Gerrard seal doom for Belgium as Paul Robinson proves unflappable infront of net, putting on quite the performance as England stroll away with a 2-1 victory and three vital points.

Italy takes on Turkey in the later in the day, and are shocked to find that the Turks don’t roll over infront of the much hyped Azzuri attack. Not only don’t they roll over, but Tayfun’s 50th minute strike, a glorious 25-yarder that Buffon palms but can’t quite stop from rolling into the net wins the match for the Turks, the ever expectant Italian fans unimpressed with their team’s effort over the course of 90 minutes, ripping into Giovanni Trappatoni for not giving Francesco Totti the starting nod and instead opting for what proved to be an ineffectual 5-3-2 formation.

Scotland takes on the Czech Republic in the final match of the day, and the dark hose Czechs are stunned to only be able to draw a point with the plucky Scots who hold the Czechs to a 0-0 draw, despite being outshot 7-0. The hero, of course, the goalkeeper, Neil Alexander of Cardiff, who turned in a performance of a lifetime to keep the Czechs at bay.

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June 14th, 2004

France takes on Greece today in a Group A match that ends as many expected, as Greece can only manage a late strike for dignity as Thierry Henry goes on a four-goal rampage, as Greece is defeated 4-1. Not that it was really Greece’s fault, an in-form Thierry Henry may be the single scariest thing in football today.

Jan Schlösser is 21 years old and finding himself surplus to requirements at FC Bayern, who have put him on the transfer list and aren’t looking to renew his contract, which expires on the 30th. We’re in need of a new keeper, and Schlösser looks like the man for the job. Most importantly, he’d be a free transfer, we wouldn’t pay a penny, which means more to me than I can state. By the evening, I’ve talked to the youngster and begun to convince him that Dresden is the place for him to develop his talents.

Meanwhile, the frustration over Germany’s tepid Euro 2004 Qualification campaign is beginning to boil over now after the national team positively limped to a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria today, actually needing Bernd Schneider to tally in the 66th minute to save them from the ignominy of an early loss. Already, the doomsayers are predicting that Germany may not even make it out of the group stages, but

June 15th, 2004

The power of home field advantage isn’t apparently with Portugal today, as they are held to a 1-1 draw with Sweden after the usually reliable Nuno Gomes completely fluffs a penalty on 85 minutes, blazing the ball well over the net to ensure that the opening fixture isn’t what Portugal had in mind.

Meanwhile, Holland happily surge to the top of Group C today with a 2-0 victory over Ireland as Roy Makaay does the damage, scoring twice in the first half to sink a completely hapless Ireland side who can’t manage a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. Coming under the most fire will surely by Birmingham’s Clinton Morrison, who was as invisible as any player has ever been in the history of sport, undoubtedly a “goat of the match†performance.

June 16th, 2004

Well, luck does shine on those not wearing a Real Madrid shirt sometimes, as Boca Juniors, looking to offload the young talent (and apparently out of their minds in my opinion) agree to a First Option for Freddy Adu worth $75K now and another $75K as the transfer fee. I couldn’t be happier. This will secure Adu for us surely, and allow us to make another bid on his services later, when he is more cash is ostensibly available.

Meanwhile, Wales’ Euro 2004 dreams end in today, as Belgium hands them a absolute drubbing, four goals from Emile Mpenza helping as they hammer poor Wales 6-1 in a match that was over at the half. I really can’t help but feel bad for Wales, who put together such a superb qualifying campaign to finish first in their group, only to see the dream destroyed such as this. Surely, the team will be trying to pull some sort of a moral victory out of their final fixture against England, perhaps screwing up the ambitions of their rivals would make the wound heal faster.

June 17th, 2004

A 5th-minute strike from Darius Vassell is good, but it’s not enough from England, who can’t hold off a furious Danish attack in the final few minutes of the game, that culminates with Jesper Gronkjaer salvaging a point for the Danes with a 87th-minute strike to equalize the game at 1-1. A point for both sides leaves Denmark and England sitting on four points, with Belgium behind with three. It’ll take the final day of matches in Group B to decide who goes where.

June 18th, 2004

It’s penalty drama at the Estádio José Alvalade today, as a missed penalty in the 45th minute by Ivo Ulich keeps the Czechs from building upon their 1-0 lead over Turkey before the end of the first half. The Turks would’ve been hard-done by this result, given the sterling performance they turn in for the next 40 minutes or so, but, thankfully, there is always the issue of a pressured defense making a dumb mistake, which Zdenek Grygera is entirely guilty of on 88 minutes, tripping Sanli Tuncay in the area to allow Belözoglu Emre to step up and equalize in the dying moments, securing a point for Turkey.

In the later fixture, it’s all credit to Scotland, as, despite allowing a staggering 19 shots on target, through the work of goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who is about to become very hot property, and the tireless work of a backline that contested each of those shots as best they could, it’s not until Francesco Totti’s 83rd-minute header (that Alexander still nearly stops) that Italy secure the three points. 1-0 to the Azzuri then.

Now, Italy sits atop Group D with 4 points, with the Turkey in 2nd with three, and the Czechs in 3rd with two. Scotland, surprisingly, still aren’t technically out of the running, as their point, claimed against the Czechs, means that a final-day win against Turkey might just push them into the knockout stages.

June 19th, 2004

Today we throw a benefit dinner to celebrate our success, and to say it’s well attended would be an understatement. It’s a chance for the fans to meet the players and for the players to personally thank the supporters for giving us such great support all year. It’s really a great sensation to see over 750 people pack the reception hall, and the ovation when José Brenes comes to the stage to accept his Fans Player of the Year award, crutches and all is hugely endearing. The news I’m most enthralled about is when Jochen Rudi reveals that we’ve been granted $3.6M in TV rights for the next season in the Second Division. Good news indeed!

Meanwhile, in Euro 2004, Greece hands Bulgaria a 3-0 thumping in a show of clinical finishing ability, as it only takes the Greeks four shots to do the needed damage and send Bulgaria preparing for a trip home, while Greece are now seriously entertaining the notion of progressing to the next round of the competition.

Meanwhile, Germany are finding themselves staring into the abyss now, after being firmly defeated by rivals France 2-0 in the day’s second fixture. The goals, coming from the feet of Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet have the Germans in 3rd, behind 1st-placed France (who qualify with six points from two games) and behind 2nd-placed Greece, who are only two points ahead. Germany must win its final match of the group stage, against Greece, to have any chance of progressing to the next round of the competition. Ostensibly, the odds are in their favor, but after the draw with Bulgaria, there is a sense of general doom and gloom about much of the country now.

June 20th, 2004

The search for a Center-Defender goes on, but the California Clippers’ Andy Jeffries wants nothing to do with us, at least nothing to do with us that doesn’t involve a contract worth at least $250K, which is way out of my price range. We’re ticking off name after name on our list now, and I’m starting to run out of potential candidates. Next on my list is career journeyman Fan Zhiyi. A reach, I know, but I’m willing to look anywhere.

Group C sees the first match of the night turn from what should’ve been a great offensive game into a dull, listless 0-0 draw as Holland and Sweden opt to provide all the attending fans with a sleep aid for the restless, managing a combined 5 shots on net between both sides in an encounter that will ostensibly be remembered in years to come for how boring it ended up being.

Apparently, it’s a running theme in Group C tonight, as Portugal and Ireland play to the same, boring 0-0 draw with neither side’s offense looking able to create much more than a whimper offensively. Still, such a particularly horrid match doesn’t spell doom for anyone in the group, as now, with Holland atop with 4 points, and Portugal and Sweden 2nd and 3rd, with Ireland falling in the rear, the final day of matches should provide some extra entertainment as to who will make it to the knockout stages. Portugal, of all the teams, will have the toughest task, needed to win to ensure passage, having to get through Holland to do it.

June 21st, 2004

In a clash of old rivals, England sees off Wales today, a 3-1 victory in Group B that ensures England’s progression to the next round of Euro 2004. With Darius Vassell, Wayne Bridge, and Alan Smith doing the damage, the latter two undoing the damage of Ryan Giggs’s heroic 34th minute goal to equalize after Vassell put England ahead. Giggs skinned both Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand before neatly sliding the ball past Paul Robinson to give Wales a semblance of hope. And, while it certainly was a great goal, it was only a matter of time until the latter two goals were struck, with England happily dominating play all over the pitch.

In the other match from Group B, Denmark are through after a 1-1 draw with Belgium that saw John Dahl Tomasson’s 78th-minute penalty be enough to secure the needed point to put Denmark just ahead of Belgium on points (5 to 4) to keep them in the competition and to bring another disappointing end to Belgium’s international campaign.

June 22nd 2004

Jan Schlösser finally stops dawdling and signs on the dotted line today, inking himself a Dynamo Dresden player for next season. He won’t arrive until July 1st however, but this is good news. It means that one of our problems, that of goalkeeping, is solved for no money paid to another team.

Group A finally concludes its work, and France’s 2-0 victory over Bulgaria is no surprise, but Greece’s confident 2-0 dismantling of Germany is all over the news today, as Labros Choutos and Zisis Vryzas both strike within the first 10 minutes to sink a German team that, from that point on, needing three goals to progress, looks absolutely beaten. Needless to say, the listless performance (only one point from three games, only a single goal scored, only ahead of Bulgaria on Goal Difference, -5 to -6) has the media and fans here absolutely aghast and angry. It’s already a given that, after this debacle, Rudi Völler will be losing his job. For such a proud footballing nation to find themselves watching France and Greece go through to the next round, and packing to head home with Bulgaria is, completely unacceptable.

June 23rd, 2004

Group C finishes today, with Pauleta’s 18th-minute tap in after an amazing 30-yard dash from Cristiano Ronaldo is all that Portugal need to knock off Holland today, 1-0. Despite the loss, Holland will still qualify for the next round along with the hosts, thanks to Ireland and Sweden putting on a surprisingly bad performance in their 0-0 draw, a match that both desperately needed to go all-out to win, in order to have an honest chance at qualification.

Meanwhile, Group D finishes off in the evening, and it’s absolute frustration for the Czech Republic, who will be heading home after a 1-1 draw with Italy that sees the Azzuri through to the knockout phase. With Jan Koller’s 52nd-minute goal canceled out less than 10 minutes later by a Francesco Totti penalty, the Czechs tried everything they could to get through the Italian defense, but Nesta, Cannavaro, Materazzi and Zambrotta held firm, and sent the “dark horses†of this competition back home.

Turkey and Scotland somehow conspired to turn in a entertaining 2-2 draw today, as Scotland, with nothing to play for, still gives quite a good fight against the Turks, two goals from Barry Ferguson putting momentary fear into the Group D leaders until Ilhan Mansiz equalized on 60 minutes and Turkey ensured itself a place in the knockout stages.

Here’s the lineup for the Quarter-Finals of Euro 2004:

France v. Denmark

England v. Greece

Italy v. Portugal

Turkey v. Holland

Not a bad match to be found I’d say.

June 24th, 2004

France and Denmark are first up to the plate and I cannot stress how well Thomas Sorensen plays in this. Personally keeping the French at bay, it’s his sterling saves, including a stunning reflex save from a point-blank shot by Thierry Henry that allows the Danes to make things very interesting, as Daniel Jensen strikes a glorious 25-yard freekick that beats Barthez and equalizes the game at 1-1 on 62 minutes. With Sorensen at his best and France becoming increasingly rattled, Denmark sweat their way through Silver Goal Extra Time to penalties, where, to Europe’s shock, the once mighty French do not hold their nerve, Robert Pires and Lilian Thuram both missing (only Thierry Henry scored), while the Danes nail all three of their kicks. It only seems fitting that, on the fourth penalty kick for France, taken by Steed Malbranque, the scorer of their goal, that Sorensen again would end up the hero, brilliantly parrying the ball away to send 2000’s champions home and to begin the media wondering once more if Denmark can provide another shock like in 1992.

June 25th, 2004

Greece’s dream ride through Euro 2004 continues today, as staunch defense and a well-timed strike prove the way to victory, as Labros Choutos again gives Greece victory today, a 1-0 win over fancied England sending Greece into the Semi-Finals, and making Matthew Upson a villain all over England. With the team down 1-0, struggling, and Michael Owen already off the field with injury (what turned out to be torn ankle ligaments), Upson reckless challenge on Choutos, which, incidentally injured the player, granted him his 2nd Yellow Card, and an early bath, taking England out of the match entirely. Truly, a moment of madness from the Birmingham defender that will be remembered for years to come.

June 26th, 2004

The hosts v. Italy tonight, and the spate of draws frustratingly continues, as defense clamps down after goals in the opening 10 minutes from Christian Vieri and Nuno Gomes and the game devolves into a longball-fest, devoid of much offensive invention. Credit to Italy however, as the game careens into penalties, on hostile soil they hold their ground, winning 3-1 on penalties over the hosts and progressing into the Semi-Finals, where everyone is hoping someone might manage to score more than one goal.

June 27th, 2004

Finally, multiple goals. One from Ruud van Nistelrooy and one from Patrick Kluivert is enough for Holland to knock out a spirited Turkey side 2-1 in the last of the Quarter-Finals today. Despite a last-minute charge that featured a goal from Sanli Tuncay, Turkey simply couldn’t come up with an equalizer in the dying moments of play, and it’s Holland who will advance to the Semi-Finals and a chance at their second European Championship triumph.

Semi Finals –

Denmark v. Holland

Greece v. Italy

June 30th, 2004

Holland, a team who rightfully could’ve been accused of not playing up to their potential in recent years (see their horrific missing out on the 2002 World Cup) but they’re showing all the potential they need to be kings of Europe this year, Patrick Kluivert coming up with two big goals to send them through to the final today, after a 3-1 win over Denmark. Clarence Seedorf got the scoring started on 13 minutes, but Ebbe Sand, who has had a wonderful tournament, equalized eight minutes later. Kluivert, in the kind of form that has made him one of the most feared strikers in Europe, hauled Holland onto his back and blasted home two goals on either side of the half to send the Dutch through. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about for Denmark here either. They played well, but Holland was simply the better side.

July 1st, 2004

Jan Schlösser arrives at the club today, to get himself situated. Since our players are all still on their month-long vacations, he’ll have some time to settle into Dresden.

Jan Schlösser (21 y/o, GER, GK)

And, in a another (mostly) boring match today, Greece’s fantasy ride finally comes to an end today, as Antonio Cassano’s 65th-minute blast gives Italy’s all it needs to hold of Greece and send Italy to its third European Championship final. Up to this point, it had been a very surprising tournament, with Denmark and Greece coming within a win of the final but it would seem now, with Italy and Holland preparing to battle it out for a place in history, things have returned to some state of normalcy.

July 4th, 2004

Euro 2004 wraps up today, as Holland takes on Italy for the Henri Delaunay trophy. With both teams even odds to win according to the bookies, everyone’s expecting a good match, but the doldrums of painfully slow, glacial, defense oriented football continue throughout today’s game, as Holland have the first of a sparse few chances to begin the fixture. The closest comes for Van Nistelrooy, who chips well wide of the net on 30 minutes, trying to beat Buffon.

Vieri brings glory for Italy on 41 minutes though, knocking home Del Piero’s stinging 20-yard shot after van der Sar spills it. Italy shells up as well as any other team possibly could, never venturing into attack again, and the world has to endure a absolutely boring last 45 minutes of play where the Italians concern themselves entirely with stopping the Dutch attack and think absolutely nothing of a possible offensive move. Still, they didn’t cheat or anything of the sort, so while many people may have complaint with their style, you can’t stop Fabio Cannavaro from climbing the podium at the end of the match and lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy over his head to begin the Italian celebrations. 1-0 to Italy.

Meanwhile, as the competition comes to its “official†end, the head coaches of France, Germany and England are all ceremonially fired. France and England may have come as surprises to some, but Rudi’s canning after the disaster that was Germany’s qualification and subsequent tournament form, noone’s really surprised.

July 6th, 2004

With the International, and Geman transfer windows finally open again, I can start looking to plug the holes in my squad that need… well, plugging. And first on my list of enquiries is Loans for next season, with VfB Stuttgart’s Marco di Biccari and Liverpool’s Richie Partridge topping my list of potential pickups, should both agree to join the club. For all intensive purposes, if there’s a player on loan, and he’s of reasonable talent, I’m going for him.

Meanwhile, friendlies begin for us today, as we travel northwest to England to begin a tour of the nation, where we’ll take on Wrexham, Hull, Huddersfield and Aldershot before returning to Germany for a number of games against local sides, including a quasi-derby vs. Dresdener SC, which should be fun.

Friendly – Wrexham v. Dynamo Dresden

So we’re in Wales today to take on Wrexham, and it’s really a surprise to see exactly how much prestige we’ve apparently gotten for our exploits last season. The Racecourse Ground only hold some 15500 people, and 14079 show up to see us trot out a number of Under-19s and regulars mixed into a single squad, as Wrexham do their part in putting up a good fight, taking us all the way into the 90th minute when Volker Oppitz happily nods home a Scholze corner to complete what was a most entertaining game for the fans to watch.

Final Score – Wrexham 1:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Ronny Scholze

July 7th, 2004

We’re introducing a slew of new players to the Dresden facilities today, as I pull the trigger on three Loans and the introduction of six, count em’, six Under-19 free transfers to bolster our youth ranks with… well, anyone.

Loans In:

Richie Partridge (23 y/o, ENG, AM RL) From Liverpool

Marco di Biccari (21 y/o, GER, M C) From VfB Stuttgart

José Paolo Guerrero (20 y/o, PER, S C) From FC Bayern

Players In:

Fábio Artur (20 y/o, POR, S C)

Francisco de Souza Oliveira (15 y/o, BRA, F C)

Bok Joon-Hee (15 y/o, KOR, M RC)

Hafit Saleman (18 y/o, IDN, D C)

Jesus Benitez (20 y/o, URU, D/DM C)

Roberto Soares Espindola (15 y/o, BRA, SW/D/DM C)

Yes, I know what you’re asking. Why the worldwide flavor with the young-uns? Well, because we need new blood in the youth ranks. I asked for a report from my coaches on the status of our Under-19s and their report back was that we might as well start looking for new blood to supplement the team. And since Germany itself isn’t being wholly compliant with my needs for young talent to bring along, I’m going to look wherever else is possible. It’s a gamble, but I’m willing to roll the dice.

As for the Loans, Richie’s exceptionally versatile, and will be a huge help, whether off the bench or as a starter, the latter more possible until José Brenes returns. Marco is good insurance in midfield, and José Paolo is another striker who I’m picking up entirely in the hope that he’ll be able to fill in the same way that Dona N’Kunku did last year. I don’t think we’ll have another Tim Janssen this season.

July 8th, 2004

The transfer window finally comes alive today, with Manchester United shelling out $19.25M for everyone’s favorite Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos from Real Madrid. The move continues a surprising trend of Real Madrid replacing its bought “Galacticos†for new blood, as now only Ronaldo, Beckham and Raul remain from the core group that was supposed to be the stars of 2003-04. Carlos should happily find a home in Manchester, where his ability on all parts of the pitch will be appreciated, as will his dead-ball skills (Carlos scored eight times last year for Real Madrid).

Meanwhile, Arsenal are losing one of their best offensive talents. Robert Pires was anything but unskilled last year, scoring 12 times and doling out another 13 assists in helping Arsenal dominate the domestic scene in England. However, $26M is enough to convince Arsene Wenger to allow him to depart for Deportivo today, as Pires finally gets to leave for Spain. While the move will hugely benefit Deportivo, it’s not supposed to weaken Arsenal all that much, as the additions of Daniel Carvalho and Fredy William Thompson last year should give them more than enough depth in midfield.

All this time, I’m spending our English summer vacation on the phone, calling my scouts and coaches to find out how negotiations over new talents to bring to Dresden is going. There’s been good news and bad news. The bad news is that Fan Zhiyi, the center-defender I wished to bring to Dresden is willing to come, but not as a player, as he retires from the playing part of the game and joins the squad as a coach. The good news is, Zhiyi is a fine coach, and, moreover, the African continent is proving a strong place of talent once more, as I’m working out a deal with Enyimba’s Seyi Ogunsanya to bring him to Germany. According to Enyimba, I can pluck him away from Nigeria for only $65K, which I’m happily willing to jump on.

In addition to Enyimba, there’s Moharram Navidkia, a Iranian midfielder, already capped six times for his nation. Having played last year for Foolad Sepahan Isfahan, an Iranian club, Navidkia was been reported to me to have quite a large amount of potential for his age, and, more importantly, can play both in the holding midfielder role or in the attack, which is just about as important as anything I could’ve been told right now.

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Congratulations on your promotion to the Second Division, Pred, and best of luck with your campaign. It sounds like you might need a little of it to ensure you have the players at your disposal to get through the season unscathed! icon_smile.gif

Great writing style, too, if I might be so bold to say so! icon_wink.gif

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>As always, thanks for the Kudos Dixie. I'm hoping this year goes over well myself! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

July 11th, 2004

Friendly – Hull v. Dynamo Dresden

A trip to Kingston Communications Stadium for a match against Hull City of the English Second Division, in what proves to be a reasonably entertaining match, as we take a quick 2-0 lead within the first 30 minutes, thanks to strikes from Neubert and Wagefeld, and, as we swap in substitutes and a number of youth players, Hull comes back to knot things at 2-2. It’s somewhat entertaining to watch these games, as the fringe players try to make sure I’ll keep them in my thoughts this season, as the established players work on making sure they’re in shape, and the youngsters hope that they’ve made enough improvement to warrant a few run-outs in the first team.

Final Score – Hull City 2:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Stuart Elliott

July 13th, 2004

Seyi Ogunsanya and Moharram Navidkia both agree to contracts with the club today and will join us on our preseason tour of England. Considering I’m paying a combined $185K for the both of them ($65K for Ogunsanya, $120K for Navidkia), it’s a bargain for players who will most certainly feature in our first team plans next season.

Players In:

Seyi Ogunsanya (28 y/o, NIG, D/DM RLC)

Moharram Navidkia (21 y/o, IRN, DM C)

July 14th, 2004

Friendly – Huddersfield Town v. Dynamo Dresden

The Good: Jesus Benitez and Dexter Langen both tally on 32 and 34 minutes to tack another win in our column this pre-season and give a nice (albeit losing) show to the 8000 Huddersfield fans who show up to watch. Jan Schlösser is, most importantly, commanding and skilled in net, earning himself a Man of the Match award for the manner in which he conducts himself and organizes his defense. He hasn’t played a bad game so far, which I’m happy about.

The Unfortunate: Bok Joon-Hee tears a calf muscle, and will be down and out for a month. While this doesn’t effect my first-team squad any, I still don’t want to see any young prospects going down with injuries anytime soon. They might become recurring frustrations.

The Rest: See below.

Final Score – Huddersfield Town 0:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM - Jan Schlösser

I wish I could say that I had gone out and micromanaged this game to the gills, but that’s a lie. In truth, I’m anxiously waiting for word from Boca Juniors today, as we finally place our $75K bid on Freddy Adu. I wish I didn’t have to wait to acquire his talents, Adu has already begun to show a desire not to leave Boca if the club will keep him, and honestly, if I can convince him that the place is a hellhole and life in Germany would be better, dear lord will I ever.

July 16th, 2004

I’d like to think I’m possible of pulling one of the biggest coups in football history. And I’d like to think I’m getting close now, as Boca Juniors accepts the $75K offer for Freddy Adu and says they’ll allow us to talk with the 15-year old wonderkid. Even better news is that Adu is so ready to get into the first team somewhere, anywhere, that he’s willing to take a pay cut (from $120K at Boca to $55K here) in exchange for a $90K signing bonus and the promise that we’ll let him play. I think we can manage that.

July 17th, 2004

Friendly – Aldershot Town v. Dynamo Dresden

We wrap up our trip to England with a game against Conference side Aldershot Town, in what basically amounts to a sightly more competitive practice, with more people rooting on the opposition. Fully 7000 show up for today’s game, and are treated to an all one-way spectacle of sorts, as we run the field against poor Aldershot, as Navidkia and Neubert both tally on the board in the first half before giving way to substitutes. I know the opposition isn’t really our class, but it’s heartening to see Neubert scoring with a little more freedom and happiness than he was last season. Every bit counts, and as far as he’s concerned, it’s really a matter of whether he’ll turn the corner, as I’m sure I’ve stated.

Final Score – Aldershot 0:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Moharram Navidkia

July 19th, 2004

Well, hallelujah indeed.

It is today that I announce to the media, as we return to Germany for a few more friendlies, that the American phenom Freddy Adu will be joining Dynamo Dresden from Boca Juniors post-haste. I really can’t put into words how happy this move makes me. Yes, Freddy is still under seventeen and there’s ostensibly only so long we’ll be able to hold onto him before the rest of Europe comes calling for his particular abilities and skills, but in the meantime, I’m absolutely freaking thrilled. Freddy Adu is going to spend next season wearing a Dynamo Dresden kit, and that’s the kind of good news that any manager would love to hear.

Players In:

Freddy Adu (15 y/o, USA, F RLC)

I’m happy to say that since Freddy has all but been dubbed a “flop†by the media, this move goes under the radar, as they’re all agog over Jaap Stam leaving Lazio for Valencia in a $19.25M move today, and Chelsea’s Mikael Forssel departs for Chievo for a healthy $14.25M return to the London club.

July 24th, 2004

Friendly – VfB Leipzig v. Dynamo Dresden

A boring week, and, by almost unavoidable inevitability, a boring fixture, as we drag our feet through a 0-0 draw with Leipzig. I’d be a horrible, filthy liar if I didn’t come out and say that this was a game mostly to get the players legs more prepared for the league campaign. Boring, boring, boring, and Mr. Adu isn’t in good enough shape to feature yet.

Final Score – VfB Leipzig 0:0 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Volker Oppitz

Chelsea is losing one of its strongest forces today, as $10.25M is enough to entice Chelsea into selling Claude Makélélé to Liverpool today, as teams begin to tool, re-tool, and tool again to prepare for the coming season. The media here is up in arms about how surprisingly quiet German teams have been this offseason,

July 31st, 2004

The Copa America comes to a conclusion today, with Brazil stealing victory away from hosts Peru 2-1. The Peruvians put up a remarkable fight for most of 55 minutes, striking first on 24 minutes thanks to a Claudio Pizarro free-kick. But when the goalscorer himself gets sent off for his second yellow on 55 minutes, it opens the gate for the Brazilians, as the ageless Rivaldo steps up and equalizes after an atrocious defensive blunder from the Peruvians and then strikes home the winner ten minutes before time. Hard done on the Peruvians, and Pizarro will rightfully be the goat after this, however still, a great performance to make the final at all.

August 1st, 2004

Juve’s Marco Di Vaio leaves for Lazio today for a pricey $15.25M as Arsenal quietly add Aruna Dindane to their squad for a quite cheap $4.6M for a player that scored 21 times in the Primera Liga last year at Oasusuna.

August 4th, 2004

Friendly – Dresdener SC v. Dynamo Dresden

When is a derby not quite a derby? When it’s a friendly. Still, there’s a good atmosphere around the ground today as we take on our in-city rivals. 15,000 actually show up, giving us our highest attendance at home (well, not technically at home, but Dresdener SC also play in the Rudolf-Harbig Stadion, so it’s away in that Inter v. Milan has one team on the “roadâ€) since Dortmund came to town. I’m entirely confident to say that we’re the higher-quality team in this match, and, for 90 minutes, we most certainly are, keeping Dresdener SC from ever even testing our net with a shot. Navidkia and Neubert seal it for us as we walk.

Final Score – Dresdener SC 0:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Moharram Navidikia

More good news today, as Richie Partridge agrees to join the club on Loan for the season from Liverpool. Immensely versatile and a skilled dribbler of the ball, it looks like he’ll be holding down the left side of midfield until Jose Brenes makes his return.

Players In:

Richie Partridge (23 y/o, IRL, AM RL)

August 7th, 2004

Happy birthday to me, as the season previews begin to come out. Sure, the nation’s eyes may be fixed on the First Division, but I’d content that this is a harder-fought place to play, as promotion here means a huge financial windfall in the top division.

From Kicker Magazine

1.FC Dynamo Dresden

Last Season - Regional Division North: Champions

German Cup: First Round

Top Scorer: Tim Janssen (18)

Strengths: A team crafted to attack, attack, attack, this team is at its best in the attacking third, and the addition of Freddy Adu will surely aid in that respect. When the midfield and attack is clicking, this team is arguably as strong as much of their opponents in the Second Division this year, and if Markovic and Okereke can keep up appearances, they should score their way to safety this season.

Weaknesses: Defense is still, unfortunately, an issue. Volker Oppitz is strong in central defense, but whether new arrival Seyi Ogunsanya can keep the heat off a new, young goalkeeper is yet to be seen. Opposition teams would do well to pressure Schlösser early and often, and try and force the 21-year old into mistakes. Moreover, the strikers are prone to hot and cold periods, which, in the struggle to stay up, often spell death for an ambitious side. Okereke, Markovic, Neubert and Adu will have to prove themselves in the absence of last year’s Loan star Tim Janssen.

Lesson From Last Season: Away form will once again be of paramount importance. Not allowing the loss column to overflow there will make a huge difference in their fortunes.

One To Watch: All the buzz in Dresden is about Thomas Neubert and this year being his year to truly step up to the plate. It is true, the 21-year old striker, who was acting far too much his age last year, has bags of potential, but still hasn’t capitalized on it yet. A potential star target man in the making, if he can get his game together to be just that.

Any Other Buisness: Manager Jacob Flanagan has spent the summer bolstering the club’s youth ranks with international talents, and has been one of the most active managers in the transfer market in Germany this summer. A very bold statement of intent to remain at Dresden from a man who has only been employed a year.

Fan File – Falk Schwanke – www.dynamo-dresden.de

What Has Your Team Got To Look Forward To? A year to consolidate. Improve. Staying up would be nice, but we’re not holding our breath.

What Will Be Your Excuse For Failure? The jump in talent of our opponents was just too much, too soon.

Young Player To Watch? Everyone’s eyes are on Neubert. The way Flanagan’s been managing this club, either he makes an impact this year or he’s gone next. Which leads me to the real one to watch, Freddy Adu, who surely has something to prove to the world, and Boca Juniors especially.

Most Important Player? Toss up. Maik Wagefeld and Volker Oppitz were absolutely indispensable last season. Either they play well again, or we’re going down. It’s as simple as that.

Player You Would Most Like To Get Rid Of? Ranisav Jovanovic. I think we need to be on the lookout for a future winger, and he’s just not it.

Have You Got The Right Manager? Yes, but that’s mostly because of last year. He’s not expected for much this season, so we’re just going along for the ride here.

Are You Happy With The Chairman? Well, everyone would like an Abramovic to pop out, but since that isn’t happening, yes.

Will He Be There In May 2005? Sort of a cataclysmic disaster, yes.

Which Team Do You Most Want To Beat? St. Pauli. Came up with us and I’d love to send them back down.

Which Opposition Player Will Get The Most Stick? Currently? Dunno. Ask next year.

Where Will You Finish? 12th, just outside of the danger zone and prepared to start climbing the ladder.

August 13th, 2004

Ah, a new season breaks. We’re, unsurprisingly, 40-1 underdogs for promotion, and, of course, everyone’s wagering that we’ll be spending most of our time worrying about not being relegated. That I can understand, since it’s on my mind. But currently, I’m worried about Freddy Adu and Ishola Shuaibu, both of whom are away on International duty for the Olympics in Athens. Now, on the one hand, it’s good that they’re getting the experience, but on the other, I’m absolutely freaked out about the prospect of them pulling a José Brenes and us missing them for weeks and weeks.

German Second Division – Game 1: Dynamo Dresden v. Hannover 96

Last season was a unmitigated disaster for Hannover 96, finishing dead last in the First Division with barely 22 points to their name. Despite that, they’re still tipped 6-4 favorites to go up by the bookies, which means opening the season against them should be a reasonable barometer for our chances this season. A win here would be wonderful, but it’d be silly to think that Hannover haven’t been re-tooling all year, in the form of $1M new signing Leonardo Pisculichi from Argentinios Juniors. My hope is that we at least bloody their nose today.

Dresden (4-4-2): Schlösser; Langen, Ogunsanya, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Wagefeld; Partridge, Navidkia, Scholze; Okereke, Markovic

Hannover (4-4-2): Tremer; Gerber, Oswald, Konstantinidis, Schröter; De Guzman, Lala, Djordjevic, Karwan; Kaufman, Stendel

With 11,000 people showing up for the first game of the year, it’s a great sensation right from kickoff, knowing that this new adventure is underway as the fans are immediately cheering and chanting from kickoff. Sadly, Hannover are looking to put us in our place from the get-go, and do, catching our defense all out of whack on two minutes, allowing Karwan to loop a long cross into the box from the touchline that De Guzman manages to get to first, and nod just past a flailing Schlösser to give Hannover the lead, merely two minutes into the game.

Persitence is the only thing that will see us through at this point, although I’m a bit disappointed at how Oswald and Konstantinidis have been stifling our strike team. They’re marking the pair tightly, but when Konstantinidis shoves Okereke outside of the box on 24 minutes, Ronny Scholze steps up to take the freekick and arcs a 25-yard beauty over the wall and into the top-right corner of the net to equalize in style.

Coming out of the half, I remove Okereke and replace him with our Loan, Milan Jovanovic, giving us a pairing of Serbs up front, and it seems to work absolute wonders. Within moments, the pair are carving up the Hannover defense, putting our opponents on their back heels as we pressure for a goal. Unsurpringly, they’re involved in the workings on 60 minutes, Jovanovic dribbling past his marker before teeing up the ball for Wagefeld to drill a cross into the penalty spot that Scholze, out of nowhere, pops up to nod past Tremer and into the net for the go-ahead goal.

From there, we put our foot on the gas as Hannover wobbles more, Partridge clipping the bar on 62 minutes with a 20-yard piledriver that really should’ve gone in. Markovic and Jovanovic seem to have found an extra gear at this point, and are steaming downfield on 67 minutes, chasing down a long clearance/pass from Oppitz and handily beating their markers for pace. Tremer makes the mistake of a lifetime however, rather than catching the ball in his area, he comes outside of it to play it, and has to watch in horror as the ball bounces off his foot and right to the charging Markovic, who easily dribbles past him and boots it into the empty net for 3-1.

Markovic adds another on 78 minutes, but it’s just another wonderful streamer on the top of this party float that has been our season opener.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:1 Hannover 96

Mom – Goran Markovic

August 17th, 2004

Well, perhaps I spoke too soon about Tim Janssen.

I learned a few days ago that the prolific striker had been listed for Loan by his club, PSV Eindhoven once more, and when I approached the club about the possibility of taking him on for a second season, they and he jumped at the opportunity. I’m proud to welcome Tim back to Dresden, and, while he may not have as much of a large part in the team as he did last year, he’s an integral part of our successes.

Players In:

Tim Janssen (18 y/o, NED, S C)

August 18th, 2004

The injury bug bites again today, in a big way, as Thomas Neubert gets his studs caught in the turf during training today, wrenching his knee horribly. The result? Damaged cruciate ligaments, and a nine month sitdown for the promising striker. It’s horrible news for him and bad news for the club, seeing one of our young prospects struck down like this. However, as loathe as I am to put a player so young under the knife already, the option of surgery does mean Neubert would be able to cut his absence down to a mere three months or so. Hopefully, it’ll work out, and I give the okay.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are looking to solve the problem of last year’s paltry finish in style, via buying some new talent in the form of Inter’s Kily Gonzalez today, in a move worth $25.5M. Whether the move will have the effect that Barca certainly hope it does is unkown, but it’s a further solidification of the Barcelona midfield, and that can only work out well.

Chelsea, of course, aren’t silent either, signing Stephane Dalmat, also from Inter. After Dalmat spent a reasonably mediocre season on Loan at Tottenham, the question is whether he will be worth the $11.25M Chelsea have decided he is worth. My guess? No, not in the slightest.

German Second Division – Game 2: SV Eintract Trier 05 v. Dynamo Dresden

Game two. 36 more to go after this. Trier were perfectly mid-table last year, 9th out of 18 teams. Surely, they’d love to bump themselves up a few slots this year.

Trier (3-5-2): Langer; Koch, Zuraw, Drageljevic; Racanel, Weißhaupt, Grzeskowiak, Gaede, Bauer; Winkler, Patschinski

Dresden (4-4-2): Schlösser; Langen, Ogunsanya, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Wagefeld; Partridge, Navidkia, Scholze; Okereke, Markovic

I don’t want to say something ridiculous like this was “a game of inches†or anything quite so silly, but this one certainly is about taking your chances when they come your way. Our first road game of the year and Trier aren’t giving any ground from the start, and it’s only the linesman’s flag that stops Winkler from celebrating the opening score on six minutes. We take our chance on 14 minutes, Scholze fighting another beauty of a freekick into the box that somehow cracks the post rather than going in and is scrabbled away by defenders. It’s Winkler’s own incompetence that keeps us from going down soon afterwards, as a dribble around Oppitz frees him for a one-on-one with Schlösser that he rushes and fires over the net.

Finally, the break comes on 36 minutes, Partridge’s steaming runs down the left flank once again finding a hole in the Trier defense, allowing him just inside the box and well inside of his man as he streaks for the touchline before delivering a cross from the touchline that floats just over the desperate flapping of Langer and falls to a completely unmarked Okereke, who can do nothing less than tap home from a yard out.

Schlösser does his part to keep us ahead, making a fine save from a point-blank Koch header on a Trier corner, allowing us to go into the half with the lead. Coming out of it, a freekick leads to a trip on Langen in the Trier box. Up steps Scholze, and he is only too happy to put us well into the lead and nearly out of sight. Trier do attempt to bring themselves back into contention, but it’s just asking a little too much of them.

Final Score – SV Eintract Trier 05 0:2 Dynamo Dresden

MoM – Uche Okereke

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It is a pleasure, reading your story. Since I am from Germany I can tell you, you are doing a great job. Schlösser and Guerrero are perfect signings since they are very talented players. Hope the best for your first season in the Second League. My guess: You will be at position 5 at the end of the year.


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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Thanks guys! Drachen, i'm glad to hear the story's got the seal of approval from someone who actually knows what's going on. Dixie, I hope things will work out too.

There's been a short hiatus due to outside influences, and, with FM 2005 making its stateside debut in two days time, I must say i'm entertaining the notion of picking that up but, until the patch is released, stick with Dynamo Dresden. I will be! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

August 23rd, 2004

German Second Division – Game 3: Dynamo Dresden v. FC Hansa Rostock

With the U.S.A. puttering out pathetically in the Olympics (only managing a single point in their group) it’s finally time for the golden boy to make his appearance. Between him and Janssen’s return to the Rudolf-Harbig, we’ve managed to draw in more fans just to see these players get their chance. And I know I’m going to make many of them angry, as I’m going with the strike force of Markovic and Okereke up front again, being that they haven’t let me down yet.

Rostock are, like Hannover, looking to claw their way back into the top-flight this year, after having been relegated in 03/04. The media don’t have much faith though, and it’s easy to see why. Their top scorer was Antonio di Salvo, who was bought by Ascoli this summer. He scored seven goals in 33 appearances.

Dresden (4-4-2): Schlösser; Langen, Ogunsanya, Oppitz, Hoffmann; Wagefeld; Partridge, Navidkia, Scholze; Okereke, Markovic

Rostock (4-5-1): Schober; Milchraum, Hill, Groth, Tjikuzu; Schulze, Aduobe, Skela, Hansen, Rydlewicz; Schied

The first half is, sadly, bereft of any real chances, save for watching Navidkia continuously balloon the ball over the net from anywhere between 20 and 30 yards out. By the time we walk off for the half, the fans are clamoring for Freddy. But I’m not going to play that hand quite yet, instead bringing on Jovanovic for Markovic this time, and seeing if he and Okereke can form anything forceful up front. And once again, this Serbian sparkplug ignites the team once more, taking it entirely upon himself to put us up on 58 minutes, knocking a backpass away from Hill before outworking him for the ball once more, and then fighting off Milchraum inside the area to fire a blast that caroms off the inside of the right post before settling into the twine. I may have seen more stylish goals in my life, but I don’t think I’ve seen one that took more effort from one single player.

Three minutes later, and Ronny Scholze gives us the style, as Richie Partridge’s leftwing cross into the box bounces off Aduobe and out of the area. Scholze, catching it on the half-volley, strikes it as sweetly as can be, curling a ball from outside the area and just right of the penalty spot in and around Schober to grant us a 2-0 lead.

Jovanovic adds another on 76 minutes, a embarrassing Hill with a fine trap and spin maneuver to leave his marker in the dust before racing clear on net and slotting coolly past Schober to put the result beyond doubt. He tacks on one more, as 12,000 fans go home without having seen the golden boy, but happy nevertheless.

Final Score – Dynamo Dresden 4:0 FC Hansa Rostock

MoM – Milan Jovanovic

After the game, the postmatch reports are lauding me for finding talent in foreign countries, and using it to my advantage, whether it be on Loan or in Transfers. I’m not really impressed, players like Jovanovic and Janssen certainly aren’t unknown qualities to their own clubs, who both are protecting their futures with a vested interest. I’m just making the most of their development time.

That said, I’m thrilled with the start. Three wins, two over relegated sides, and we’re played great football. We’re sitting clear atop the Second Division with nine points from three games, and have got a veritable ton of momentum going into our next match, a German Cup fixture against Hamburger SV. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, after last year’s good fight against Dortmund, if I don’t wonder if we can’t pull something surprising here.

August 27th, 2004

Lazio and Real Madrid add to their ranks of talent today, although one move is significantly higher-profile than the other.

Of course, Real Madrid are in the bigger of the two moves, paying Milan $10.5M for the services of Rui Costa. The 32-year old Portugese playmaker adds to the glut of talent in the Madrid midfield that now also has David Beckham, Esteban Cambiasso and Steed Malbranque, to name a few. Rui Costa, who was declared surplus to requirements in Milan, may not see the time he’s hoping for in Madrid, but when did notions like common sense ever stop Madrid?

Meanwhile, Lazio grabs Everton’s Thomas Gravesen today, surprising half of the footballing world which fully expects the next move involving Everton to also involve a certain precocious English striker. Anyway, that aside, it’s the $10.25M price tag that has most eyebrows raised, as the Danish midfielder, while skilled, wouldn’t be considered by most to be worth nearly as much as Rui Costa. Different teams, different needs. Go figure.

August 28th, 2004

German Cup – 1st Round: Dynamo Dresden v. Hamburger SV

Two years I’ve been the boss as Dresden, and two years straight we’ve been drawn against First Division teams in the First Round of the German Cup. Were I the type to believe in conspiracies, I’d say that the FA had something against us. But I don’t, I’m concentrating a bit more on trying to figure out a way for us to eke something special out of this game. I do feel in awe of HSV somewhat. I know some of the names of their players, Markus Babbel being the most obvious example, who returned to Germany this summer in a $2.3M move from Liverpool in England. Even less pleasing is the simple fact that this team is last year’s runners-up in this competition, who took FC Bayern to Silver Goal extra time in last year’s go-round. Or, alternatively, one of the last teams I’d really like to be playing.

Dresden (4-4-2): Schlösser; Langen, Ogunsanya, Oppitz, Hoffman; Wagefeld; Partridge, Navidkia, Scholze; Okereke, Adu

HSV (5-3-2): Pieckenhagen; Rahn, Reinhardt, Babbel, Ufjalusi, Jacobsen; Wicky, Beinlich, Ledesma; Barbarez, Mahdavikia

With 19,000 fans in full voice at kickoff, we’ve got a great atmosphere at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadion today, and I’m happy to see that, at the very least, our fans aren’t intimidated by our opponents. That, or they’re just that thrilled with seeing Freddy Adu making his debut. Whichever it might be, I’m already screaming myself hoarse from the touchline, giving instructions to my team. HSV, hopefully, would not be prepared for a team smaller and (supposedly) worse than them to come running at them from the beginning, and, while the opening exchanges do see us looking positive, it’s on 11 minutes that Mahdavikia swings a low cross into the box that somehow evades the feet of two defenders, allowing Ledesma to dummy it for Barbarez to rifle past a most confused-looking Schlösser for the opener.

I’m screaming at the boys not to get down, and to really start playing with a chip on their shoulders, which they do, harrying HSV all over the field for the ball. I don’t think I truly had an understanding of how on-song this team was until merely two mintues after Barbarez’s goal, Navidkia picks up a loose ball in the HSV third of the field and fires a pass for Okereke that the Nigerian flicks right past Babbel and then rifles into the back of the net from 20 yards to equalize. Two minutes later, Okereke’s at it again, beating Babbel once more as Scholze’s flick-on from a Hoffman throw-in manages to find its way to the right edge of the goal box, and Okereke muscles past Babbel to give it the tap it needs to send it past a sprawling Pieckenhagen.

2-1 up and suddenly with the fans roaring, we continue to push as HSV look so shocked to be down so quickly that they don’t know what to do next. It doesn’t get any better on 25 minutes, two defenders caught completely out of position by a Okereke pass allowing Adu a free run into the attacking third. On the upside, where the two defenders are, Adu doesn’t have much shot at rounding the keeper and scoring, so instead, as Pieckenhagen comes charging out, he flicks it beautifully, from 20 yards away from net, well to the left of the penalty spot and at a tight angle, up and over Pieckenhagen’s head, as the ball somehow, unbelievably floats down and into the net. A real spectacular start for the kid!

Going into the half 3-1 up, my instructions to the team are simple. Don’t let them back into the game, keep up the pressure, and try and kill them off entirely. A fourth wasn’t out of the question before the end of the 1st half, and it comes barely into the second, a lightning fast bit of play starting with Navidkia, to Okereke, to a streaking Adu who chips Pieckenhagen again to notch a splendid debut and surely kill off HSV.

I’d be gloating too much to describe the rest of the match, suffice to say, HSV does peg us back one, but Okereke notches his hat trick and Tim Janssen, on as a sub tacks on one more to turn this game into an embarrassment noone was expecting to go quite this way.

Final Score – Dyanmo Dresden 6:2 Hamburger SV

MoM – Uche Okereke

After the game, it’s smiles all around as I’m swamped by the media, looking for comment on the upset. Of course, I’m happy with the win, and I’m thrilled with my team’s play, especially Okereke and Adu, who formed a lightning-fast partnership up front that did in HSV’s defense that was, dare I say, overmatched. And no, I don’t think this game is a statement of intent for us to take the German Cup home. We want to win, like everyone else wants to win. But, all of that said, having this particular win in our column… well, everyone’s going to start taking us very seriously now!

Meanwhile, the Olympics closes today with Brazil offing France 3-1 in a reasonably entertaining match. Now if only the world really cared about that competition…

And lastly, apparently three goals in four games this year (and 11 in 20 starts last year) isn’t good enough for Milan Baros to keep his job at Liverpool, as he is shipped out today to Atlético Madrid for $12.25M.

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