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Bavarian Football Works looks back—and ahead

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What a season it’s been! We look back at BFW’s eventful season before storming ahead—FC Deutschland here we come!

Bayern Munich's fans wave flags as players celebrate on the balcony of the city hall in Munich, southern Germany on May 20, 2018.
Bayern Munich's fans wave flags as players celebrate on the balcony of the city hall in Munich, southern Germany on May 20, 2018.
Photo by Günter Schiffmann / AFP

What a season it has been! As Bayern Munich’s final games of the 2017-2018 season fade behind us, I thought it would be nice to take stock of where Bavarian Football Works is, briefly look back at our own crazy season, and then look ahead as we prepare for the biggest soccer spectacle of all: the World Cup!

A season of changes for BFW

BFW has changed a lot since the summer of 2017. The biggest change was the first, when long-time manager Phil Quinn stepped down after leading the site for four years. Jason York took over as site manager in June, as the German national team was playing friendlies and rumors had just broken that Bayern was making a push to sign Corentin Tolisso. And I became Jason’s deputy.

Life has a way of intruding on the elaborate hobby that is writing for BFW. By the end of the Hinrunde, real work was making it increasingly difficult for Jason to continue managing BFW and he made the difficult decision to step down. But after observing for several months as assistant editor how a pro runs a site like BFW, I decided I was ready to take the reins myself.

Thanking our crew

And Jason’s greatest legacy is the wonderful crew he brought on board to help: Ineednoname became our gamethread guru, Josh Sampson (who now works for Bayern in NYC!) took over our social media, Tom Adams succeeded Josh and proved to be a rockstar on Twitter in his own right and one of our most prolific writers, Brian Kellogg has been great on gamedays and covering the US soccer scene, and Chuck Smith proved he can do it all.

These newcomers complemented our rock-solid cast of BFW veterans: Phil emerged from his hiatus refreshed and ready to leap in with timely help and incisive articles, Ryan Cowper and Novaburger chip in whenever they can, grudnik (“Onkel Schorsch”) will be back any day now, and Valentin King has been invaluable on matchdays and in covering the Bayern youth. It’s been my particular pleasure to bring on a bevy of new writers, too: let me thank Cole Godfrey, Callum Seniuk, Eduard B., Gopika, Jacob Dorman, Drake Hills, Paddy P., and Zepa Pires.

A Schmankerl of stories

My primary goal when taking over BFW was to keep the site and by extension our community of commenters going strong. That meant foremost covering breaking news and matchdays. But I jumped right away on one idea I had in the back of my mind for quite some time:

What to do with those stupid transfer rumors? They’re obviously out there; our readers know about them. Heck, they even post them pretty regularly in the comments to other stories... But I can’t endorse garbage like that from Don Balolol. What to do?

Enter the Daily Schmankerl:

What, you ask, is a “Schmankerl”? In Bavarian dialect, a “Schmankerl” is a tasty tidbit, a little treat or dessert. That’s what we want this new feature to be: something to whet the appetite, but not a full course.

So our “Daily Schmankerl” (which might not necessarily appear every day) will include links to various minor news, transfer rumors (especially silly ones), and a smattering of entertaining posts from Bayern’s social media presence.

I feel like the Schmankerl was a game-changer for BFW. It let us do so many things all at once: it let us report the various rumors floating around the web, but also perform the public service of discrediting the obviously stupid and ridiculous ones with a hearty side of humor. Writing a “Daily Schmankerl” can be really fun.

The Schmankerl also gave us a natural place for all the other fun and interesting Bayern and Bundesliga stuff that’s out there on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram. And finally, it gives you, the community, an ideal forum to chat about virtually anything, and there’s never any need to qualify a post with an obligatory “OT.”

Beyond that, however, I wanted and still want BFW to be more than just a news blog. We’ve expanded in several ways this season: Paddy’s great scouting reports were a real highlight (alas, work has kept him away lately). Gopika’s recaps of the reactions to our matches quickly became a regular fixture to counter typical “slow Sundays” after games. Ineednoname debuted a series “novelty XI’s” that generated a ton of interest.

We played around with match previews and predicted lineups. We took up SBN’s idea of “live-blogging” big games by updating the game threads. And we published a range of well-written, and well thought-out, editorial pieces—from INNN’s pessimism to Chuck’s optimism—not to mention our BFW roundtables. And every now and then, when a rumor is just profoundly dumb or the mood just strikes me (I can’t explain it), I’d rattle off a satirical article just for the fun of it.

BFW has grown

Big surprise, right? Well, it is! I set out with the humble goal of keeping BFW going, keeping the writing good, and trying a few new things. Somewhere along the way, the pace of everything around here noticeably quickened. We began writing more and more often. I used to be thrilled if I could get a Sport Bild story out in English before ESPN FC. Now we’re doing that regularly. The Daily Schmankerl was a hit. And our creative and editorial pieces were major attractions.

The Internet—and you!—noticed. Traffic at BFW is up over 100% from where we were just a year ago. BFW is being read by thousands of people across the world every day. I still think it’s amazing. And our community of commenters has also grown. The regulars are still there, but Markopolo’s Stern des Südens is being rec’d by record numbers.

And our commenters are incredibly diverse. I think we have regular posters from every continent except Antarctica, and (I’ve said this before) I’m very proud that BFW is a place where a substantial number of women are among the most prominent members of this online sports community. It’s all possible because of you: you keep the conversation here incisive but civil, friendly but not crude, and you know when to accept differences of opinion and move on rather than descend into a flame war.

What’s ahead: FC Deutschland here we come!

So what’s next for BFW? Two words: World Cup. OK, so silly season will also be upon us regarding transfers, but we are excited about the 2018 World Cup in Russia. We will be following the German National Team very closely, since so many Bayern Munich players are on it, but we’ll also keep track of other Bayern players in the tournament, from Thiago with Spain to James with Colombia, to Tolisso with France and Lewandowski with Poland. We plan to have regular game threads, and we will give Germany’s games the same full coverage we give Bayern games. On days when Germany is not playing, we’ll try to create a thread for the games being played that day so you all will have a place where you can tune in and watch and chat with the community. The World Cup will be great.

That, in a nutshell, is what I wanted to share with you all as one eventful season ends and another already looms on the horizon. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience running BFW for the past five months, and I’m already looking forward to next year, when Niko Kovac will take the reins. At the end of the day—to borrow Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s favorite phrase—BFW is about you, and I hope you continue to enjoy what we’re doing here.

Mia san mia.