The title question is a legitimate one. Grasshopper Club Zürich, or GCZ as they are known, are a giant of Swiss football...yet face an enormous challenge to bring back the glory days of previous title wins. 27 title wins to be precise, dating as far back as 1898 and as recent as 2003.
GCZ used to play at Hardtrum, a 1929 constructed stadium with a 17,666 capacity, but finances and low attendances saw this stadium demolished from the 2007/08 season. Since then, GCZ have had a bittersweet relationship with FC Zürich and now ground share at the Letzigrund. For all intents and purposes, this remains FC Zürich's spiritual home and not GCZ's.
A 'Stadion Zürich' is proposed on the old Hardtrum site, which would see GCZ relocate to a new circa 20,000 stadium but faced a 50.8% refusal in a local referendum. One key personal motivation in taking on the GCZ challenge, and answering the title question, is the sense of achievement at bringing GCZ 'home'. To do this however, certain amounts of wizardy are needed in the club's finances...
Since GCZ's 2002/2003 title winning season, FC Basel have become the dominate force in Swiss football (9 times league winners) and to a lesser extent FC Zürich (3 times league winners) and BSC Young Boys (5 times runner up). The toll is slowly starting to show on the GCZ squad and finances.
As of August 2015, not only are GCZ 70% less of the market value of FC Basel (£52.9m/€73.47), they are also £21.8m/€30.28m behind BSC Young Boys [based on transfermarkt.co.uk].
This decline has in part led to a reduction in playing staff and the ability to keep hold of established stars. GCZ now have the smallest and youngest squad in the entire Swiss Super League (10 teams). This will notably heighten the GCZ challenge in FM16.
The standout player is obviously an FM legend: Kim Kallstrom of Sweden (33 years old next week). Kim has signed a contract until 2018, meaning that he will be the player to build around in this season's FM16. He has a range of passing and an uncanny knack of finding teammates at set pieces. If there was ever a deep-lying playmaker to build around, it's Kim.
The other standout established players are Yoric Ravet (25 years, contracted until 2017) and Caio (29 years, contracted until 2018), who will be expected to make significant contributions offensively to the team in the 15/16 year.
Beyond this, the team is largely young. Upcoming talents to be nurtured are Shani Tarashaj (20 years), Munas Dabbur (23 years) and Levent Gülen (21 years). All should make the step up this year to replace personnel who were sold last year.
So, why Grasshopper Club Zürich? Well the answer simply lies in the challenge. Knocking FC Basel off their throne will be enjoyable, but there are also long term challenges such as a potential stadium move, improving finances and seeing the young team reach their full potential. Make no mistake, this will be a hard FM challenge...