‘The Saint Pauli Plan’ began 161 days ago, back in the closing stages of last October. And an awful lot has changed since then. Donald Trump swept to victory in the U.S. presidential election; Kylian Mbappé rose from the status of hot-prospect to global superstar; Theresa May said that she wouldn’t call an early election in Britain, but decided to anyway; and N’Golo Kanté is still terrifying the Premier League. In other news, Claudio Ranieri was ousted from his deserved throne; Carlton Cole completed a shock move to the Indonesian Premier League; and the term “mugwump” has been lobbed around more frequently than anyone outside of Eton could have anticipated.
At the start of this save F.C. St. Pauli were just a small (but unquestionably proud) team from the city of Hamburg. They played the football in the second tier of German football and were making the headlines for managerial masks rather than their exploits on the field of play. However, in our alternative version of reality – we have re-written the script and shaken the apple tree somewhat. I am delighted to be able to announce that I was able to end my stint with Saint Pauli on a high. But were we drunk as well…?
In today’s article, the final “proper” part of this series, I will be reflecting upon the second half of my ninth season in charge at the Millerntor-Stadion. When we last spoke, we were on course for an incredible trophy haul – but were we able to pull-through, or did we fall at the final hurdle? Either way, lets just go about the 28th blog of this series “all together now” – after all, that’s what the ‘Boys in Brown’ would do in reality…
Two Fat Ladies – The story of our Bundesliga form…
For those of you whom are less familiar with bingo jargon I should probably explain what on earth two fat ladies have to do with this save… After 34 games of stem-winding Bundesliga action we ended the campaign on 88 points (hence the reference to our two beautiful larger than life ladies) – leaving everyone else in the division in our rather considerably sized wake. Gone are the days of the Saint Pauli pedalo, we’re rocking the boat these days!
Winning the title for the sixth time in succession feels almost unfair (which is a contributing factor for the imminent closure of this series) because we are starting to make our rivals look silly. Gone are the days of Bayern and Dortmund stealing our ball and running with it to the other side of the playground, we are the bullies these days. And it feels absolutely fantastic.
The final fourteen league games of my tenure compounded what I already knew about my team: they are an unbreakable unit that will do everything to win. The highlights of our Bundesliga campaign all came in the second half of the season, simply because our style of play was so much more refined post-Christmas. Our best performances came against Leverkusen, Bayern, Dortmund and Hamburg – all of which were on the road; I do find it difficult to ignore our exploits against Borussia Mönchengladbach at home, we were terrific.
Across the second half of the season we dropped only eight points – with six of those coming as we failed to score against Koln, Mainz and RBL – and as a result I have a wealth of games that I can talk about in a positive light. However, rather than focusing on the small details perhaps it would be better on the bigger picture?
We leaked only three goals after Christmas in the league. That is absolutely outstanding!
Despite rotating against a number of top-half teams – including Schalke and Braunschweig – we were defensively resilient against whatever style of attack we faced. We conceded twice against Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund because we struggled to keep the ball, and as a result of that we became fatigued due to the amount of running we were forced into. From there, we were easy pickings for a resurgent BVB side as they attempted to leap up the standings. On the other hand, the goal that we conceded against Schalke was laughable. Christian Melgar attempted to switch the ball to Malcom (who was playing at RWB) but instead found their centre forward, who was never going to miss with the entire goal gaping!
The final day of the season was an emotional affair. Wanting to reward our longest-serving players, I rotated the team heavily – safe from any impending criticism as we had already secured the title – and set about Hoffenhiem from a different perspective. We reverted to the 4-4-2 that did wonders for us in the first of this save and simply entered into a war of attrition with our hosts. Cross-after-cross-after-cross entered the box, and although the game certainly wasn’t pretty: the likes of Heintz and Tsoesti received the de-facto testimonial that they deserved.
Champions. Unbeaten. Invincible. Lifting the Bundesliga title took our overall trophy collection for the season up to four… But would it go any higher?
“WHO ARE WE!?” – The Greatest?
The team that I have assembled on this save is a far cry from the shenanigans that are going down in Billericay in real life, but missing the chance to mock Glenn Tamplin one last time this series would have been too sour a pill to swallow! You are probably wondering what the hell happened in the Champions League and German Cup since we last spoke?
“Did you fall flat on your ass?”, I hear you ask… Well, no. Not until the post-season party…
The German Cup – Dreamlike…
For me, this season wasn’t about the German Cup. We’ve won it before (quite a lot) and had so many other fish on our plate that needed frying that it fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. But regardless of my regretful rotation and “lack of respect” for the competition we still won it… Although it wasn’t anywhere near as clear-cut as it perhaps could have been.
As you would have read about in last week’s article, we reached the quarter finals of the competition courtesy of wins over Spielberg, Bochum and Dusseldorf – thus setting up an unlikely clash with Kalrsruhe. The game was tight, tense and a bit dull – but our goal six minutes into play negated those negative emotions. Lukaku did what he does best on that day: physically dominating sides, and our lowly opposition simply couldn’t cope.
Next, we faced Bayern at the Allainz – with whoever happened to be the winner of the game being heavily tipped to go onto win the competition. The game had a strange edge to it. Despite lagging behind us in the Bundesliga, Bayern started the game phenomenally; frankly, they absolutely played us off of the park. Thomas Muller gave our hosts the lead after just seven minutes of play and it gave the tie an awfully familiar feeling; it was as if our roles had been reversed. Bayern were back to being the dominant force and we were back to being the plucky team from central Hamburg. By the time that half-time came around I was absolutely seething, devastated by the abject nature of our performance up until that point – and as a result I made a raft of changes at the break.
Olf, Lukaku and Malcom entered the field of play to rapturous applause, but that glee only papered over the cracks: we were in serious trouble and in need of some inspiration. Thankfully, that inspiration came from Malcom. Our Brazilian winger stormed up-and-down the left flank time-and-time-again to create space for those who went on the march through the middle, often occupying two defenders as he floated between the lines. It was Peter Olf who drew us level. A long, lofted pass found its way over the Bayern defence and into the path of our Dutch playmaker – and he was never going to fluff his lines as he approached Munich’s marooned goalkeeper.
With our levels restored to their rightful levels, the final twenty-seven minutes of the game were a breeze. Klopp’s Munich side looked uncomfortable as we probed them during the closing stages, ultimately surrendering their lead due to an inability to mark Romelu Lukaku at the far post. Lukaku didn’t score a breathtaking goal at any point while dressed in the brown of Saint Pauli; he did, however, score a lot of important ones…
With the final nail placed into Bayern’s polished oak coffin we set about planning for our clash against Wolfsburg. My manifesto was clear: I wanted to win, and I was willing to do it at any cost. And, essentially, that is why we were able to win in my final German Cup Final – it was textbook “hoofball”, but style doesn’t matter when you have gutsy substance.
The Olympistadion was, unsurprisingly, packed to the rafters for the final – but we didn’t have it all our own way, the foregone conclusion that the bookies had predicted simply didn’t come to fruition. Wolfsburg started the game poorly, gifting us a goal just four minutes into the final, but their determination to rectify those early errors was truly commendable. However, despite their bests efforts we doubled our lead. Leon Goretzka was the man on hand to smash home from five years as the ball bounced around the six yard box hopelessly following a scuffed clearance from Will Hughes. The half-time whistle provided welcome respite from the constant pickty-pockety of the Wolfsburg attack, their youthful exuberance was starting to wear down our defensive discipline but that didn’t prevent Vincent Kompany’s men from entering the break two goals down!
Seyi Ojo gave Wolfsburg a route back into the match with his well-taken goal shortly after half-time, but it wasn’t enough. Despite rattling the post twice in the final ten minutes Wolfsburg were unable to find a way to equalise and stuttered in the closing seconds of the game as they threw absolutely everything at us. The game ended with the scoreboard stuck at 2-1, and it meant that the domestic treble was ours again…
The German Cup was our fifth title triumph of the year, but it wasn’t even my final hoorah…
The Champions League – (
Having just about managed to creep through as group winners following a patchwork of shoddy displays we were drawn to face Manchester City in the first knockout round of the Champions League, the first ever meeting between the two clubs. The first leg at the Etihad was an absolute blur. Manchester City came from behind three times to rescue a 3-3 draw in front of an expecting home crowd in what was an unbelievable game of football. One minute we would be in the ascendancy, and the Leory Sane would steal the impetus for Manchester City. It was a heart-crashing affair and a large part of me was glad that the second leg was a far more clear-cut proposition!
City were hapless at the Millerntor in the second leg. They were caught off-guard by my choice to line my side up in a 4-2-3-1 shape and that element of surprise certainly helped us other the line. Fatih Aydin scored another brace to send himself top of the top scorers chart, with Alessio adding the cherry on top after 64 minutes.
A 6-3 aggregate victory certainly flattered us, but it gave us the confidence to push on in the later rounds of the competition.
A remarkable 2-1 aggregate win over, back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back Liga Nos champions, Benfica in the quarter finals only served to add to that level of confidence. It may have taken us until the first minute of injury-time in the second leg to find the winner, but the only important thing about that is that we were the team to find it; not Benfica!
The final four teams left in the competition following an intriguing year of quarter-final clashes were Manchester United, Napoli, Real Madrid and ourselves. So whatever team we were drawn against we would be in for a tough time because none of the teams left in the competition were slouches:
- Napoli: Having usurped Juventus in Italy, Napoli were on the charge in Europe. Young, hungry and a brisk attacking side – essentially, they are the Monaco of today nine seasons into the future.
- Manchester United: Jose Mourinho still hadn’t forgotten our little tiff from two seasons ago and was hungry for revenge, as proven by his insensate attempts to poach my players throughout the final weeks of the season.
- Real Madrid: It goes without saying that Real Madrid have a wonderful group of individuals – but that doesn’t always translate into having a wonderful team. Beatable, but certainly no pushovers.
We were drawn against Manchester United, and the plot-line of our season thickened to the viscosity of curdled milk. Our two clashes against Manchester United were sandwiched by the Hamburg Derby and the Manchester Derby, so it would be fair to say that both sides had other things on their minds as we prepared to face-off against one another. And it showed.
The first leg was a dour affair. We took the lead after an early Luke Shaw OG, but were soon pegged back by a Paul Pogba thunderbolt – one of very few flashes of brilliance across the whole tie. Although a 1-1 draw at home wasn’t the worst result in the world, it did mean that we needed to go to Old Trafford and either win or draw by a scoreline of 2-2 or higher – which, in all honesty, was always going be a tall task given United’s fantastic home form… But we did it – by the skin of our teeth, mind.
Two early deflected goals from Gerson and Aydin sent us sprawling into a 3-1 aggregate lead, and it sent me into overdrive. With over an hour of football remaining to be played I bolted: we dropped back to form a 6-3-1 formation and simply set about absorbing the Mancunian pressure. It certainly wasn’t pretty, and when Manchester United equalised on 74 minutes to cut our lead to “away goals” I could only watch the game through my fingers. Regardless of my affrighted state we just about pulled through – as did Napoli in the other semi final…
FC St. Pauli 2-1 S.S.C. Napoli | Champions League Final, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 7th June 2025
It would be outrageous of me to say that I knew that we would win in the final, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said that my levels of confidence certainly boarded on arrogance. My Saint Pauli side had been there and done it, we already had a Champions League winners medal sitting above our fireplaces. The same could not be said for Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side, they had talent in an abundance – but an evident defect of experience, and that showed!
Unsurprisingly, I was unwilling to let sentiment cloud my team selection for this fixture – my team was picked on merit, rather than loyalty. That meant that I shafted our 5-2-1-2 formation for the more defensively resilient 4-3-1-2, replacing Alessio with Shane Tsoesti as a result. Other valuable players were left on our bench – including Malcom, Lukaku and Goretzka – but we had more than enough talent on the field to shake any defence to the core. Namely, the inclusion of Olf, Aydin and Kolo had the potential to tear the Napoli defence to pieces – and in many respects it did.
An unbelievable brace from Ralf Kolo in the first half was enough thrust to blow Napoli out of the water – rendering their well-worked second half goal nothing more than a consolation. While our goals were pleasing, our performance was warranting of all of the plaudits that it received. Our narrow midfield controlled the centre of the park, forcing Napoli into attacking aimlessly down the flanks only to have those attacks chopped down by the ever-present Tanese and Lemoine. Vitor and Beer were more than comfortable in passing the ball around the back, thus affording the rest of the team time to breathe, take stock of the situation they found themselves in and press on once again.
Although he didn’t score, Fatih Aydin was absolutely sublime. His pressing, passing and movement off of the ball gave his teammates space that they could explore and utilise to their heart’s content. It was the ultimate way to bow out from a performance perspective..
But it also meant that the sextuple was ours. Prior to starting this save I didn’t even know what a sextuple was!
To round of this series I felt that I should draw back the curtains and look at some of the less-mentioned topics, although I see little point in adding much more details to this already overly long blog! The below screenshots highlight the enormity of the success that I have had while managing Saint Pauli, and that goes beyond what we did on the field.
Over the nine years that I spent at the club I was able to transform the club’s finances, taking our bank balance from five-figure amounts to eight-figure amounts. Furthermore, my work with regards to securing a number of commercial foreign affiliate clubs meant that we were able to grow our reputation massively. I joined the 31st best club in Germany, but will leave it as the best club in the world.
Oh, and one last thing! It would be fair to say that the board were able to source a fantastic replacement… Although I am slightly shocked that they decided to treble their spend in managerial wages in doing so! St. Pauli have been left in safe hands, be under no illusions about that!
Well guys, that is that! The series is now finished and I would like to thank you all for your absolutely outstanding support, it means the absolute world to me. Before leaving you with my generic conclusion I would like to point out that there will be one final piece of St. Pauli content coming to the site during the coming week: I will be releasing the save file so that you can use it for your own enjoyment. Whether you chose to download the file so that you can continue my work with the club, take on an alternative challenge or just have a look around the save please do let me know how you find it!
Again, thank you for your insane support – I will be back with a new blog series after the exam season, but in the meanwhile you can keep up to date with my Football Manager endeavours from this save over on Facebook: you can find the links below!
Finally, I would like to thank you on behalf of the entire admin team for visiting the site – we pride ourselves on making thefmaddicts.com the best it can be, and that is still a journey that we are going on! If you have any questions for me about ‘The Saint Pauli Plan’ or anything else that I may be able to help with do not hesitate to get in touch through the streams listed below. The twenty-ninth/final extra instalment of this series will be released at some point next week, an article where I will be discussing the save as a whole and giving you the opportunity to download this save file…