The Pentagon Challenge: 2013/2014 Season In Review

Uniao da Maderia

2013/2014 Season

Liga2 Cabovisão_ Overview Stages

Well, well, what a first season. So exciting, in fact, that I played straight past my planned half-season writeup. The season started up surprisingly poorly, given our preseason, but some tactical adjustments started working quite well and we found ourselves go on a 10 match unbeaten run through the Autumn. Our forwards were unstoppable all season long, lead by loan signing Renato and his haul of 26 by season’s end. It was par for the course to see a 4-0 or 5-1 win.

Once we hit our stride during the unbeaten run, we shot up towards the top of the table. When we hit 1st, we really made it our own, staying atop the pile for several months. After the January window, we started slipping up despite bringing in some real talent. Eventually this led to Ac. Viseu catching up and even taking 1st from us. The last few months of the season became quite intense, with there never being more than 3 points between us. We ended up taking first with a few matches to go, and on the last day as long as we matched Viseu’s result, we’d take the league, either on points or goal difference. Of course, despite doing my best motivational speeches, the players just couldn’t pull it out and lost the last match to have us end promoted, but not champions.

I’d like to interject here and say this will not be the format for my future updates. All the drama at the top of the league got the best of me, and I ended up pushing through match after match without thinking to take screenshots. I’m thinking in the future I’ll do 3 month updates, so there will be a fair bit of content but it won’t have to be as broad a summary as this first season was.

Speaking of the future, after taking a team projected to finish well in mid-table and earning promotion, I’ve received this contract offer:

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I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to take it. Our wage budget would only increase by 1k, which going into the top flight I don’t think is enough, especially with no transfer budget at all. A lot of players saw their contracts not get renewed, mainly because they either weren’t good enough or were barely good enough for the second division. That would free up a good portion of that 16k, but we wouldn’t really have any room to bring in players of the quality we’d need. I might take the contract to stay employed while I see what other jobs are out there. The Portuguese second division isn’t the most reputable place to manage, but my accomplishments so far are starting to earn me a tiny reputation. We’ll see what happens. I’ll leave you with some various interesting happenings throughout my first season.

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Hugo was easily our best player, picking up several awards at the end of the season.

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I didn’t do too badly for myself either, picking up a few manager of the month awards, among others.

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Until next time, fellow managers.

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The Pentagon Challenge: It Begins

The Pentagon Challenge

Overview

For my first blog-save, I’m going for something that I’ve never done before. The Pentagon Challenge is one of the most popular (and most difficult) challenges in Football Manager. The premise is that you start off unemployed with the lowest possible reputation (Sunday League). From those humble beginnings, your goal is to win all five of the club continental competitions. Those being: UEFA Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League, AFC Champions League, Copa Libertadores, and the CAF Champions League.

Setup

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This is my database for the start of the save. Various countries from various continents, with all leagues loaded in each one. I chose not to load any of the major European leagues to start with, as that’s where pretty much all my FM experience is.

After getting the database all loaded (took forever, my CPU is getting outdated), I created my unemployed manager with Sunday League experience and went on holiday, choosing to apply to any jobs. As you might expect, I got plenty of mails laughing off my interest, or being slightly more polite and saying that I wasn’t getting the job. It didn’t take too long, however, before I got a positive response.

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União da Madeira

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I decided to take the interview, because A) It was a possible job, B) I’ve never managed in Portugal, and C) They’re one of the oldest clubs in the country. The interview breezed by, with neither the board nor myself being picky at all. So of course, a few days later, I was offered the job.

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I went ahead and accepted the offer. The expectation of only a respectable finish and a media prediction of 8th seemed fairly reasonable. The squad was really hit and miss, being mostly either 4+ stars, or ~2 stars. Almost all of the wage budget was taken up, but I was hoping that I could move some deadwood and take advantage of the Portuguese second tier not having restrictions on how many loan players you can use.

Preseason Report

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Pretty good run of results for preseason, although Rapid was the only team that we wouldn’t easily beat and it showed. Fairly short preseason, but morale is high due to the big scorelines, and everyone is generally fit for the season.

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These are the tactics I’m working with so far. (Excuse the out of position players, I just wanted to get the tactics and not shift people around just for screenshots). Our control tactic has worked quite well in preseason, dominating lesser teams (which is what it’s supposed to do). Our attacking tactic will have to be used sparingly, picking 3 AMs is really hard due to lack of squad depth. The counter tactic I haven’t worked with much and don’t really have any faith in.

Over the course of preseason, it was our AML and AMR who really came through and impressed me. Both had 7.3+ average ratings and had multiple goal matches.

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Clearly not world class, but so far they seem quite good for this level. I’ll have to wait and see how I feel after the first few league matches.

 transfers

As far as transfers go, there wasn’t  much activity at all. Ended up spending a few grand to release GK Duarte, as his was completely awful and quite old. That freed up a little more wage budget and allowed me to bring in a few desperately needed bodies. Jean Felipe is a solid looking RB for this level, and has done a good job on defense and attack in the preseason. Ruan goes straight into being first choice GK, being miles ahead of who we had, even at just 19 years old. Renato was actually a find from my DoF who actually looked good, so I let the loan deal go through. He’ll be able to fight for a first team striker spot straight away. There might be another loan or two coming in, especially as we have almost no depth OR talent at CB.

Next time, I’ll be going over my first few months of competitive football in Portugal. The team looks pretty decent now, but not really playing anyone of the same level as us during preseason, I could be in for quite a shock.

My first foray into blogging.

I’ve never done any sort of blogging before in my life. I’ve recently started doing the whole “being public with my FM playing” thing on twitter, and it seems that making a blog is the next step. So I guess I’ll do sort of an introduction.

My name’s Dave. At the time of this writing I’m 25. I’ve been a huge fan of football (soccer) for quite a few years now. I played rec stuff when I was young, but got out of it for a while. I’m a certified USSF ref, but at the moment I can’t do much of anything due to a serious back injury. So the closest I can get to the sport besides watching it on TV is to play Football Manager.

I haven’t been with the series since it was Championship Manager, like (as far as I can tell) almost everyone that talks about it online. I got into it right near the end of FM12. I bought FM13 when it came out and according to Steam spent almost 1000 hours with it. Of course, I picked my Premier League team (Manchester United) for my first save, but after spending a few in-game months doing horrible thanks to my lack of understanding of both tactics and the game, got frustrated and stopped playing that save. I spent quite a bit of time on the official forums, reading over topics about tactics and spending a lot of time in the Career Updates forum, reading various types of saves that other people were doing.

I quickly realized that even with an understanding of the game and tactics, managing one of the best teams in one of the best leagues was not how I was going to enjoy the game the most. Sure, you can bring in your favorite top players that you wish the club would sign in real life. Sure, you can build a super world beating team and win treble after treble. But to me, there was no fun in that. You get your team full of Ronaldos and Messis, get a solid tactical setup, and grind out big win after big win. Some people like that, and I won’t tell anyone to play the game. Reading through all these career stories though, what appealed to me most were journeyman saves, and taking a team from the lowest division and trying to make them into a continental superpower.

I tried a few games starting in the Conference North/South, aiming for one club saves. I was still learning a lot, and things never went to plan. I’d do poorly, get sacked, and start a new save. Eventually I started a save with Salisbury in the Conference South, and something amazing happened; I won the league. The next season, in the Conference Premier, I barely avoided the drop. The season after looked like it was going the same way, so I resigned. Due to not having much reputation, I had to drop down to the North/South again, with Boston United, leading them to a midtable finish. After leaving there partway through the next season, something amazing happened, something which sold me on the magic of a journeyman save. I was hired by an MLS team. Sporting Kansas City. Although they aren’t a team I support, I’m a huge follower of MLS, and after three seasons in the fifth and six tiers of the English game, I had a job in the MLS. I was hooked on the game. I ended up playing the save until 2024, slowly building a reputation. After SKC, I went to Bury and finished 2nd in League 2, earning promotion. Partway through the next season, I left to head to Doncaster Rovers, also in League 1, and finished 2nd for the 2nd season in a row, getting promoted to the Championship. My first season in the 2nd tier, I finished 17th, barely staying up. I left Doncaster, spending two short spells at FC Twente in the Eredivisie, with a quick time at OH Leuven in between. I spent most a year without a job, before joining Swindon in the Championship, taking the from a relegation battle to a safe finish in 13th. Another short spell in Belgium with AA Gent, before coming back to England again with Carlisle in League 1. Finished 3rd with them, losing out in the playoffs. The next season, it finally happened. I was offered a job at Southampton in the Premier League. I finished the season 18th, getting relegated, but my love for Football Manager was forever sealed.

So that’s my (rather wordy) story of how I came to love this game. I’ve had a few saves on FM14 so far, only being a season or two each. When I started with my FM twitter, I started a new save in the 2. Bundesliga, which I’m a few months into. I’m also very seriously considering doing the Pentagon Challenge for this blog, seeing as how much I loved being a journeyman last year.