Stuttgarter Kickers: Road to Tokyo – Part 1 | @Winkveron

Happy hump day and here for a midweek treat is the newest member of the Blog Squad, @Winkveron. You may remember Dan from being the first ever CM Cup winner back in 2017. Here he is to explain the aim of this game…

In real life, Stuttgarter Kickers sit in second place in the Oberliga Baden-Wurttemberg (one of 14 leagues that make up Germany’s regionalised fifth tier). If they’re lucky enough to secure their current position, and succeed in the playoffs, they’ll gain promotion to the fourth level on the pyramid. But there is a long way to go.

Kickers’ tidy little ground is located about 2km from my father-in-law’s house, so I like to go for a walk around it whenever we visit. A couple of years ago, when they were still in the third tier, he took me to a game there, in the hospitality suite (because his company was a sponsor). I’ve watched their demise since then and can’t believe they’ve dropped so far.

In 1997/98 they were in the second tier, relative nose-bleed territory by today’s standards. They did reach the promised land of the Bundesliga a couple of times in the late ’80s/early 90s but their stays were short lived. They also lost a German cup final around this time. In short, it’s a modest club shorn of an exciting history.

My aims with this save are as follows:

1 – Win promotion to the Bundesliga.

2 – Establish ourselves as a solid Bundesliga outfit.

3 – Win the Bundesliga.

4 – Win the European Cup.

5 – Win the Intercontinental Cup (called “World Club Cup” on the game). (Shameless plug time, I’m in the process of writing a book about the history of this very competition. It will be released in July 2022.)

Kickers start with just over a million quid in the bank, a tiny stadium (capacity less than 10,000), and a squad lacking quality. It won’t be easy to ship out the dross, fill the coffers via gate-receipt money, and attract good players (I’ve not checked what their reputation is on the database but I’d guess it’s in the toilet).

We need to raise funds so I transfer list the entire squad, figuring I’ll decide on the players’ future if/when the bids come in. During the season I sell or release 14 players.

The only one I reluctantly sold was Gislason, but I made a tidy profit, having signed him for £250k.

Sixteen players come in…

I whizz through the season and can’t stop winning. Inexplicably, we win promotion at the first time of asking. Objective number 1: tick. It’s fairly comfortable in the end and one or two more goals would’ve won us the title.

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We have the goals veteran forward Eberhard Carl to thank. (Imagine if he had a shooting stat higher than 9!) I bring him in to give him his promotion bonus and break the news that he’s on the transfer list. Got to be ruthless if we’re to push on next season.

He joins Meppen for £800k which is GREAT business for us.

Always vital after a promotion-winning campaign, as you look towards life in a higher division, the summer transfer business would prove crucial. I managed to bring in six players for a whopping £1.6m. It doesn’t fill me with confidence. The Icelandic regen wasn’t available, so I settled for the 36-year old version, Arnor Gudjohnsen.

This is how we lined up for our first game of the 1998/99 Bundesliga season….

We start with a defeat. Wes Brown and the Icelandic veteran get our goals, but we’re undone by an 80th-minute winner.

An easy home game wouldn’t go a miss. Instead we face champions Munich 1860, who boast Pele in their ranks (Abedi Pele, but still). Wes Brown scores yet again and this time it’s us that benefit from a late goal, from Benito Alvaro.

The aspect of the opening two games that gives me hope is the fact we’re scoring goals, but one point from six points to one thing: it’s going to be a long, hard season.

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