It was one of this beautiful days in December, my friend Christian Giménez and I were having a lovely BBQ with some Quilmes together. Our families have joined us and we did really enjoy it.
I have been enjoying my life with the Boca Juniors to the fullest. The time has been flying, almost three years have passed since Daniel Angelici to convince me to start my manager career at highest level. We were successful like never in the history with a total of 16 local and international trophies. We were starting to create a dynasty at the capital of Argentina, the scouting network has been expanded and we did set up a afiliation network in south America as well to get all the best regens. I had my scouts even sent to Africa to grab me some high quality youth prospects.
But I remembered the words Josep Guardiola told me some time ago: "Gabi, I'll give you an advice. Don't stay longer at a club for more than three years. After this time the players get complacent and it will be the best for you to move on." Guardiola seemed right, but how could managers like Ferguson, Wenger or Ancelotti at Milan stay for such a long time. Ancelotti was focused just on doing the coaching and had always amazing, but the success of the other two is unbelievable.
The life at the club was getting tougher, more and more players had started to ask for incredible high wages. The worst moment was when Marcelo Meli, one of my key players in the midfield area, asked for 125k/w. We did offer him 40k which is huge money for an Argentine club but he was refusing our offer and he ended up on a free transfer at local rivals Velez Sarsfield earning a total of 24k.
All the contract negotiations of the first team players were really hard and I did not enjoy that, maybe I should given the task to my Director of Football like Ancelotti likes to do it. On the other side we didn't have a hard game in the local games and won every season with at least 10+ points. So there was no challenge there anymore, it was just to get bigger and bigger.
Christian knew that I wasn't that happy anymore and tried to cheer me up a bit, but then suddenly he started to talk about his former club Hertha BSC. "You remember I was playing there in my late stages of my career?". Sure I did remember.
He told me that they have been devastating so far this season: 17 games, 0 wins, 6 draws and for sure at the bottom of the league.
"They will be looking for a new manager pretty soon, isn't a challenge you were looking for?" I admit I was ready for something completely new and I did start to research a bit about the club:
In Germany the club is also known as "die alte Dame", which means the old lady which I guess comes from the fact they were found in 1892 as one of the first real football clubs in Germany. They did win the league two times.
The fact that they do have a really good youth setup and are from a metropolitan city (Berlin) did make it even more interesting. I could start something here.
I don't know what I was thinking at this time to change the beautiful with argentinian summer with a cold German winter. The contract details have been set up really quickly and Boca did get two millions for me.
Luckily in Germany there is a pretty long winter break, so I had a lot of time to prepare my squad for the second part of the season. After a few weeks I did see that Alexis Messidoro wasn't in the first team plans for new manager, so I snapped him on a loan deal for 6 month.
It was really important to get some points as soon as possible, so I was pretty happy we faced Darmstadt, who were also lying at bottom of the table. We did have lovely game and smashed them with 4-0. What a game! Our first win and the teams first three-pointer!
In general the football was really pleasing and we did manage to get enough points to survive the relegation battle.
Now the time has come to prepare the new season with squad changes. Michael Preetz and I will be working day and night to have a squad that can stay clearly off the relegation next season. For sure we will try to get some promising youngsters.
Like I did at Boca I wanted to set up a world class scouting network and find some affiliated clubs to secure us some great youngsters, but the board did not want to have this kind of affiliated clubs. At least I was allowed to sign three more scouts. One of them was former world class center back Roberto Ayala. I wanted him to be able get dip in the South American market.
The board would us allow only an affiliated club to improve our standing in a different nation. I've never done that in Football Manager so far, but I'm keen to see if we can get some money from merchandise in the US with our new partner team San Antonio Scorpions.