New coaching line-up
Robin Dutt, who was successful at SC Freiburg for many years, takes over as the new head coach at Bayer 04, bringing his assistant coaches Damir Buric and Marco Langner with him.
New signings Andre Schürrle (FSV Mainz 05), Ömer Toprak (SC Freiburg), David Yelldell (MSV Duisburg), Karim Bellarabi (Eintracht Braunschweig) and Danny da Costa (homegrown) strengthen the Werkself. Bayer 04 will have to cope with the departure of Arturo Vidal.
New main sponsor
Bayer 04 present the new main and shirt sponsor for the start of the 2011/12 season. The Sunpower Corporation, a USA producer of solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, have agreed a three-year deal. "We have taken a new path with our international invitation for bids and we are very happy with the result. Solar energy fits in with us," said Bayer 04 CEO Wolfgang Holzhäuser. And Reinhard Lampe, CEO of Sunpower Deutschland GmbH, explained: "We see great growth potential for Sunpower in Germany - that is why we are looking to extend our commitment here. We have found a suitable partner in Bayer 04 where performance is written large.
Setback in Dresden
After leading 3-0, Bayer 04 lost 4-3 in extra time at second division side Dynamo Dresden in the first round of the DFB Cup and are out of the competition. Bayer 04 have not started the season as anyone would have imagined in Leverkusen. The Werkself played like an absolute top team for an hour, controlled the hosts and went ahead with great goals from Eren Derdiyok, Sidney Sam and new signing Andre Schürrle. Dynamo then got back into the game with a double strike and were able to equalise in the closing stages. Dresden used a counter-attack in extra time to score an incredible winner to make it 4-3.
The first weeks of the Bundesliga campaign were mixed for Bayer 04. A defeat at Mainz in the opening game was followed by two wins against Werder Bremen and away to VfB Stuttgart with Bernd Leno on goal for Leverkusen for the first time since joining on loan and then permanently from Stuttgart. The young Germany U21 keeper has been signed because the number one keeper René Adler is out injured for an indeterminate length of time and his number two Fabian Giefer is ruled out after suffering concussion in the first game at Mainz. The Werkself produced one of their best games of the season in the 0-0 draw against champions Borussia Dortmund but two defeats at FC Bayern and at home against FC Köln proved disappointing shortly after that.
Welcome back, Champions League
After an absence of six years, Bayer 04 are finally back in Europe's premier club competition. The opening match at the eventual Champions League winners Chelsea ended in a 2-0 defeat but the Werkself qualified for the Round of 16 with wins against KRC Genk, Valencia and in the return game against Chelsea plus a draw at Genk.
Bayer 04 are in sixth place at the winter break. The squad prepares for the second half of the season at the training camp on the Algarve.
Exit against Barca
Proved to be too strong for the Werkself in the Champions League Round of 16. Bayer 04 are knocked out of the competition after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg and a 7-1 loss at the Camp Nou with world footballer of the year Lionel Messi scored five goals.
Bayer 04 continue to experience ups and downs in the Bundesliga: Wins in the derby at FC Köln and at home to Bayern Munich are followed by four defeats in succession. After a 2-0 defeat at home to SC Freiburg, the management reacts to the negative development by parting company with coach Robin Dutt. Former Bayer 04 pro Sami Hyypiä, who knows the team very well from playing here, and the former U19 coach Sascha Lewandowski take joint control – Hyypiä as the team boss and Lewandowski as the head coach.
The Werkself return to winning ways with the new duo and remain unbeaten in the last six games of the season with four wins and two draws lifting them to fifth in the table thus ensuring qualification for the Europa League. Shortly after the end of the season, Bayer 04 announce the continuation of the partnership Sami Hyypiä and Sascha Lewandowski. Both sign three-year contracts to 30 June 2015.
Departure of Adler and Ballack
Ahead of the last home game against Hannover 96, René Adler and Michael Ballack bid farewell to the Werkself supporters and the stadium where they have experienced many great moments. "René and Michael have helped write part of the football history at Bayer 04," said Bayer 04 sporting director Rudi Völler. The two Swiss players Eren Derdiyok (1899 Hoffenheim) and Tranquillo Barnetta (Schalke 04) plus goalkeeper Fabian Giefer (Fortuna Düsseldorf) and defender Bastian Oczipka (Eintracht Frankfurt) leave Bayer 04 in the summer.
Women stay up
There is a happy ending – the Bayer 04 Women draw 0-0 at Bad Neuenahr on the last day of the season to retain their status in the Bundesliga. The previous coach Doreen Meier is succeeded by Thomas Obliers.