- James racked up an impressive 128 points on Matchday 1.
A new season, new coaches and, outside of FC Bayern München’s Carlo Ancelotti, I feel like my debut at the helm of my Official Fantasy Bundesliga squad was perhaps the best performance of any new man in charge.
About James: When it comes to tactics and formations, you’ll struggle to find anyone as keen or as knowledgeable as James 'The Coach' Thorogood. James is Bundesliga obsessed, with Sascha Mölders, Juan Arango and Jay-Jay Okocha making up his top 3 all-time favourite players. He is regularly spotted discussing tactics with Carlo Ancelotti over a plate of pasta, and has also been seen animatedly moving salt and pepper shakers across the table while out dining with Thomas Tuchel.
I’ll be having words with my good friend Andre Schubert, but despite Mahmoud Dahoud, the "first-name on my team sheet", not featuring I racked up an impressive 128-point haul on the opening Matchday. Any embarrassment felt in light of that decision, however, quickly dissipated when I realised that I had bettered the tally of both Flo ‘The Scout’ and Matt ‘The Expert’. Don’t worry, lads, there’s plenty of time for you to close the gap!
Enough about me, though. There were six other head coaches taking charge of their respective clubs for the first time on Matchday 1. While only one of them came away with a victory, it did get me thinking about which players could benefit from a new lease of life under new management.
Franck Ribery (FC Bayern München, midfielder, 12.2M)
It is not that Ribery did not thrive under Pep Guardiola, it is that persistent injuries meant he could not. Last season the Frenchman only made 13 Bundesliga appearances, having a hand in just eight goals – his worst ever return since moving to Munich back in 2007.
However, against SV Werder Bremen, the 33-year-old racked up 13 Official Fantasy Bundesliga points and, on top of grabbing a goal and an assist, took three shots on goal and won nine challenges - all of which suggest he could be back to his best providing he remains injury free.
Raul Bobadilla (FC Augsburg, forward, 11M)
Bobadilla tailed off significantly after the winter break last season. The Paraguayan scored just once and regularly had to settle for a place on the bench, but looks fresh and rejuvenated at the start of the new season.
The 29-year-old won 12 challenges and had three shots on goal and, whilst Augsburg did end up on the losing side, it was a promising start for Bobadilla under Dirk Schuster’s tutelage and resulted in him picking up seven Official Fantasy Bundesliga points.
Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04, defender, 11M)
Andre Breitenreiter’s time as Schalke head coach was neither a failure nor was it a success. The same could be said of Höwedes’ 2015/16 campaign as he featured in just 15 games, chipping in with one goal as a result of three separate injuries.
The Royal Blues lost to Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 1, but Höwedes won eight challenges and looked solid throughout. Head coach Markus Weinzierl is renowned for making his sides difficult to beat, a quality that Höwedes will benefit from greatly in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga stakes - albeit perhaps not on Matchday 2 when they face Bayern!
Dario Lezcano (FC Ingolstadt 04, forward, 10M)
Lezcano caught my eye at the end of last season, especially during Ingolstadt’s 3-3 draw with Leverkusen on the final day. At times he looked like he was struggling to get to grips with the demands of German football, but I have a feeling he’s exactly the type of striker Markus Kauczinski enjoys working with.
He led the line for Ingolstadt in the 1-1 draw with Hamburger SV and boasted a return of seven points. Mathew Leckie racked up 11, but with Lezcano costing 3M less and more likely to get on the score sheet than the Australian, don’t miss out on the 26-year-old.
Dominik Kaiser (RB Leipzig, midfielder, 8.2M)
Dominik Kaiser: my biggest regret on Matchday 1. At one point I had the RB Leipzig captain and Frankfurt’s Mijat Gacinovic in my side, but opted instead to plump for Johannes Geis and Suat Serdar. A terrible choice - sad face!
Kaiser hardly performed below expectations last season, but the step up to the Bundesliga can be a difficult one. However, with Ralph Hasenhüttl allowing him more freedom in midfield, the 27-year-old rose to the occasion against Hoffenheim, collecting an impressive 12 points. With penalties and free-kicks in his repertoire, I reckon Kaiser’s value will hit double digits this season.
Mario Vrancic (SV Darmstadt 98, midfielder, 3M)
Vrancic was a peripheral figure for most of last season under Dirk Schuster, but appears to have maintained some of the momentum he generated towards the back end of the campaign as he slotted into Norbert Meier’s starting line-up in the defeat to 1. FC Köln.
A snip at just 3M, the 27-year-old snatched five points for having two shots on goal and winning seven challenges. Once referred to as “the most talented youngster I’ve ever worked with” by my idol Jürgen Klopp, could this be Vrancic’s break-out season? Whether or not it turns out to be, a first-team regular at that price has to be considered.
That concludes today’s session of thoughts from the Tinkerman. For now, I have another date with a DVD player and a notepad as I continue my quest to analyse every facet of the Matchday 1 performances - that is after I give Andre a call. I’ve got a pretty good idea of which players I might be drafting in for next weekend so keep your eyes peeled for my next article.
Never tactics bored,