ASTANA: Cultural Learnings of Football Manager for Make Benefit Glorious Nation

Gaius Baltar

Mar 8, 2016
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Back for another round of Making Benefit Glorious Nation. Like my original story, back in FM 16, I'll be working in Kazakhstan. Previously, I actually had a lot happen in my life just as the story got good and couldn't continue with it. When I came back a few months later, the save was corrupted and so I didn't go beyond that.



- No foreigner youth regens. Too "exploity," makes the game too easy.
- Must focus on developing young nationals for the glory of Kazakhstan.
- No transfers if I have a negative balance or loans of any kind, including stadium loans.
- Unlimited signing of players classified as Homegrown to Astana.

- Champions League Success (obviously).
- Growth of Club Reputation. 2.5 Stars at the start.
- Growth of the Domestic League to Top 3. Ranked 36th at the start.
- Growth of the National Team to Top 5 World Rank. Ranked 108th at the start.

Hope you enjoy.



The team is a relatively newer team in Kazakhstan and has played some European football. The club is funded by the government of Kazakhstan and, as such, gets about 16m per season in grants. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.



As you can see there are some really bright spots to the team. Heavy on foreign talent and not a lot of defensive quality. Maksimovic is an obvious talent and only 21. Despotovic is the main striker on the roster at this point but looking the squad over I might do a bit of reshaping until the squad looks more to my liking.

Some of the highlights on the roster are as follows.


Maksimovic at 21 and already very good but also under the eye of bigger European fish with deeper pockets. For as long as I can hold him, he'll be a force in my midfield and can also play in AM. He was a stalwart for me in my last save and I was able to keep him at ASTANA even after many advances. I hope I can do the same this game.


Shomko is a good attacking fullback who hopefully can provide in attack for my club, especially given my strange formation choices.


Twumasi is a young Ghana winger who has lots of potential. I'm very excited by his natural fitness and pace but his technical skills seem rather low and he lacks in several very important areas for what my wingers will need to do.



My Reserves team. Very little quality here, mostly loaned out. Once I get a few youth intakes, most of these players will be cleared out and released.

UNDER 18s.


An issue similar to my Reserves team, my Under 18s has basically zero talent and will be cleared out pretty quickly as youth intakes come along.



My main squad has really good talent but, as my Assistant Coach points out, I have no youth prospects, no defensive depth. The depth issues in defense will be dealt with in my first transfer window and the youth will come over time as I get more and more intakes.



The asymetrical formation from my last save that worked decently well domestically and in Europe. I haven't used it at all in FM 2017 so here's hoping it can stand the test of the new game. Otherwise, I'll be switching formations pretty quickly.



Not much to see here. Average across the board with a stadium deal that is less than ideal, especially since we have European football. Hopefully we can fill the stadium, build some excitement around the club and generate funds beyond the grants I'll be receiving every year. Meanwhile, we'll push for facility upgrades at every opportunity.

So I have a pretty good squad, though the talent is heavily foreign and not a lot of Kazakhstani talent seems to be of quality enough to take over a foreigner's spot. That will need to be addressed as the Kazakhstani league limits how many foreigners can be in the starting 11. Also, I have zero depth in defense for my main squad, no potential youth talent to speak of and a bare system. We'll be pushing to have more and more of the National team represent ASTANA as we go.



First few days and already the sharks are swimming around my players. The cash being talked about doesn't seem right and I need these guys to perform decent in Europe. If I have to play hardball and refuse to sell, the board better back me up!



A mixed bag of results as my team learned the formation and my tactics.



Almost all the transfers in the league monetarily came from my club. Shored up attack, almost all my transfers were foreigners. Majer is a very exciting prospect with great potential. I'm also looking to grab young, disenfranchised players who cannot make their respective national teams and might nationalize for Kazakhstan.


Only 6m spent and I'm very happy with that amount, especially since the massive majority of that money is for a very exciting prospect in Majer.


Lovro Majer (AMC/MC).

Huge potential, never capped above U19 means he might stay under the radar and in five years be eligible for Kazakhstan. His great first touch, passing, technique and flair will be greatly appreciated at the center of our midfield and drive our attack.


Djordje Ivanovic (ST/AMRL).

Some decent potential, definitely better than what I can find in Kazakhstan. He's still young but has never been capped by Serbia and I have hopes he can nationalize for Kazakhstan in the next five years or so. Low finishing and other important striker statistics are worrying but he'll be better than my domestic competition and get a lot of starts in the Kazakhstani league.


Nermin Haskic (ST).

Better than Ivanovic, older too, but slightly worse and he'll provide good cover both domesticall and in the continental competitions of Champions League. Great physical attributes and good off the ball skills. Hopefully he can bag me some goals.


Magdiel (DL/WBL).

Very young, underrated defender who I hope can provide some real value at LB for me on CRIMINAL wages of 1k/week. He has some good potentials and I know we can develop him along and really help him grow. Also, another young player who has never been capped by his own country who could be a possibly future Kazakhstani national.



Obviously predicted to win the domestic competitions, obviously. The worrying amount of Key Players who aren't Kazakhstani is clear. That needs to change over the next five to ten years.


Expected to reach the Group Stages in Europe is very interesting but I think we can make the push. That'd be VERY good for us financially and allow me to build a great foundation for this club's growth with both facilities and infrastructure.


Competition overview.


Injury report. My new, young Brazilian fullback took a knock. Worrying injures to my defense.



With the government grants, I'm completing fine financially although I do have a large payroll budget. Participation in European competition will help me greatly, especially if we push to the Group Stages as we're goaled to do.


A decent preseason. Very worrying preparation for my tactics but some of my transfers came in late. The cupcake domestic competition will help them learn those tactics as we go along with less risk of it hurting the club in Europe.

Hope you enjoyed reading, more to come :)


JULY 2016.


First match of my career at ASTANA. Dominating victory to start the domestic campaign. Two own goals that came during massive spells of possession for us turned the game into a circus.




First leg, very disappointing. But the star for Hapoel saw red and that brought me hope for the second leg. 2nd minute of the second leg and I was in pure panic, seeing a very early goal due to a defensive lapse. But boy did we rally! My attacking midfielders poured on the pressure and we broke into the Israeli backline, putting in two massive goals. Second half started and much the same continued with another goal before we slowed on the attack, absorbed the Israeli pressure. My young star signing Lovro Majer came on added his first goal in a ASTANA kit to make the result final and push us into the next round!


Drawn against the Cyprus club APOEL Nicosia. They will be a definite challenge, having been a consistent presence in European competitions in the 21st century.


First leg in the books and I am a little disappointed. A quick goal from us was promising but APOEL answered back almost immediately and then went up 1-2 only 16 minutes later. This time it was our turn to answer immediately with my Serbian striker jumping on a mistake from the Cyprus club's defender and knocking the ball into the net. Once again, my young star Lovro Majer came on and SAVED the first leg for me with a massive shot from almost 40 yards out that salvaged a win. Still, the two away goals allowed are VERY concerning for me and I am worried we will not make it passed a very good APOEL club in Cyprus.



An undefeated month of July, with my only draw being at home in the Second Qualifying Stage against my Israeli competition. We overturned that. First three matches domestically were no surprise though my defense was stalwart. Ended the month domestically with a very close away match against the 2nd place side Ordabasy. Still, a very promising first month that hopefully tells us of the years to come.


And ended July 2016 on a particularly nice high note, winning Manager of the Month.

More to come :)
Interesting story and interest pick for a save my friend, however for some strange reason I am not able to see the images. Does anyone else has the same problem ?
Interesting story and interest pick for a save my friend, however for some strange reason I am not able to see the images. Does anyone else has the same problem ?
Appreciate the comment! Link a story and I'm always happy to return the favor.

I'm not sure about not seeing the images but if thats a problem for others, please speak up. I know the images are hosted on imgur and are larger than the post allows. If you click on them, they will go to their correct size. Maybe that will make them visible? I don't know. I know in my last story, this wasn't an issue.


AUGUST 2016.

Here we go. A very busy month at ASTANA. We'll know the results of our European qualifying campaign. I'm excited about how Europe will go while we have a busy domestic campaign.



After the first leg, I was slightly worried. Winning 3-2 at home was concerning but here we turned that around and had a really smashing match. Despotovic really put the club on his back, bashing an all-important early goal to put the pressure on APOEL and then again putting one passed APOEL about 15 minutes after the halftime. Once again, young prospect Lovro Majer scores a late goal after APOEL pulled one back and put some fear in me. Getting into the Champions League playoffs is key as now the worst I can do is qualify for Europa League and that means I'll be making some money!


And now for our draw in the Champions League playoff match.


This is very concerning. A disaster perhaps. Olympiakos is a very good club and they have a lot of quality that I'll have to deal overcome. I think we can do it with counter-attacking football and some timely goals. Excited for this match-up but a little sad I didn't get a more favorable draw.



This was a very hard fought match. Possession was so even and yet Olympiakos seemed to be able to get all the shots off, constantly harassing my backline. When they finally got a goal at the 33rd minute mark, I was worried their constant harass had finally broke my defense and we would collapse. Ibraimi then responded heroically. Winning a freekick in Oylmpiakos territory, he scored a very deftly taken free kick and brought us even. Excited about the away goal but concerned with how often Olympiakos was able to take shots with even possession while my attack really struggled to turn possession into opportunities. Hopefully, the second leg being at home will provide us with the extra advantage necessary to push ourselves into the Group Stages and get that sweet, sweet cash injection!


SIMPLY STUNNING RESULT! The entire match, Olympiakos had more possession and, much like the first leg, was able to turn that possessional advantage into opportunities. However, the counter-attacking tactics I have been instilling in me club for the very purpose of continental competition bore ENORMOUS fruits. First, right before the break, we broke on the counter after almost 3 minutes of Olympiakos possession in our half, driving into Olympiakos territory and then capitalizing on a defensive mistake to jump on a loose ball in front of the Olympiakos net and Despotovic smashing it home. Made me halftime talks much easier, eh? Olympiakos came out after the break hellbent on putting an away goal in and held the lionshare of possession for over 15 minutes before they were able to equalize and put some fear into this ASTANA manager. A defensive lapse from Olympiakos again turned into a penalty opportunity and Ibraimi came through in the clutch to score from the spot, putting us ahead for good, before Despotovic banged one off the posted and cleaned up his own miss to put the match away for good. It was an intense few minutes after the penalty as I knew an Olympiakos equalizer would end us on away goals so the Despotovic second goal really calmed my nerves and sent the home fans into waves of jubilation. I'm so very excited to being playing in the Group Stages, both financially but also the experience will be invaluable as my domestic campaign is not the most challenging.


And speaking of the financial benefits of Champions League football...



Two nice paydays refill my coffers and put the club back into a stable financial position. Some of these funds will go towards improving the facilities needed to establish a long, successful career at ASTANA and it's nice to get the funds to start improving right away.



Ouch. I had zero hopes of competing much in the Group Stages so my real hope was for three very high profile clubs that could bring large groups of fans to ASTANA. Well well well, these three definitely fit that billing. Al three absolute juggernauts of their respective leagues, hopefully they can provide the necessary excitement to drive some extra cash into my bank account while they destroy my little Kazakhstani club 6 times. Hopefully, we can get a lucky draw against one of them at home for some extra cash but I don't have high hopes.




6.25m spent in the window and a good influx of talent balanced between players who can contribute now and young guns who will be instrumental to the future of ASTANA.

Some of the transfer window highlights not mentioned in previous updates.


Jovica Blagojevic - WBL, AMCL, MLC

Very young, very promising. Also, capped at U19 but hopefully he finds it hard to break into the Serbian squad with how talented Serbia is at midfield right now. I signed him with a look to the future. He has a 10m release clause so he will either provide me a cash injection in the future or hopefully slip through the cracks and become a Kazakh national in five years. Fingers crossed.


Jennerson - GK

Not a very good goalkeeper but young, largely ignored by the Brazilian national team and some upside. He was free and so I wanted to get him into Kazakhstan now and let him begin nationalizing for us. He'll be a backup at my team but provide some quality for the rest of the league when I sell him to my domestic rivals later. It's all about the good for Kazakhstan in this signing. He'll be the starting GK for my reserves for a bit and then perhaps go out on loan domestically before I finally loan him out with a cheap buy option to a domestic rival.


Frazen - DC

The final piece to arrive in this transfer window, Frazan is really just coverage for my backline as well as possibly a future purchase. I have a 2m option on him and if he developes and shows promise, I might take that option up. He has the upside, has the good attributes but we'll see how he performs. His contract is so cheap and I really like his fitness and positioning. At worst, he'll be a domestic rotational player and European backup for me and we'll see how it goes. But if his development explodes with regular football, I like that I have a relatively cheap option on him.


Erhan Masovic - DC/DMC

Technically part of this transfer window, Masovic won't arrive until December 29th but I wanted to show him now. He'll end up costing me 400k but he's so very young and his phyiscal development really excited me. He's been capped at U19 but I think he'll be another Serbian who could fly under the radar long enough that he can play for Kazakhstan and make a difference for us five to seven years out. Hopefully, he last months in Serbia can bring hime some more development and he'll arrive ready for first team playing time. We'll see.



Another successful month but very congested with fixtures and the wear and tear on my players started to show with the 3-2 result at Taraz as we struggled with fitness throughout the match. Hopefully, this becomes less of an issue but it is concerning to see my players slowing a bit with so many fixtures. Also, now having qualified for the Group Stages of Europe, we won't have two legs over 7 days anymore like with the Qualifying Stages.


Another Manager of the Month award. 8-2 goal difference, four good wins domestically. Not a shook but appreciated nonetheless.

Hope you all enjoyed reading, let me know if others cannot see the images as well as post links to your stories so I can return the favor! More to follow :)
Appreciate the comment! Link a story and I'm always happy to return the favor.

I'm not sure about not seeing the images but if thats a problem for others, please speak up. I know the images are hosted on imgur and are larger than the post allows. If you click on them, they will go to their correct size. Maybe that will make them visible? I don't know. I know in my last story, this wasn't an issue.

Don't change anything my friend , I can see the images properly now! Well done for entering in the champions league group phase even though you manage to do that by throwing out my favorite team (Olympiakos)

As for the story I have started one in fm17 (I am not thinking of buying the new game at the moment), and here is the link


September 2016.

A new month, new challenges, including our push for European glory. Our hopes are high after crushing Olympiakos but then we received a group including Barca, Napoli and Tottenham and that crushed our own dreams. We're hoping for one or two home draws at best in this group. Let's get it started.



Ouch. Embarrassing loss. Suarez was unstoppable and destroyed my backline all match. The loss could've been so much worse. What little possession we did have, we tried hopelessly to get the ball into the Barca third and get a shot off. Not much to say about this loss except to highlight how far back our team is from European glory and competing on this larger stage.


Not as bad as the Barca match. When we equalized 71st minute, I had hopes we could pull out a draw but those hopes were quickly dashed five minutes later when Hamsik scored. More equal amounts of possession didn't lead to more equal opportunities. Here we see the growing story in Europe. Unable to create chances. I might have to address that in the coming offseason. A severe lack of quality chance creation in the final third.



Domestic domination in between two losses in continential competition. My depth is tearing apart the Kazakhstan league and cup but we are overmatched in Europe. This might be a trend for a few seasons as we fight to grow as a club.


Goal of the month for an ASTANA player.


Income looking very healthy right now. The 16m from Group Stage qualification will be huge in maintaining a healthy financial status and growing as a club.


Wages come as the highest expenditure but also ground maintainence and my transfer spending. I know at some point we'll need a new stadium, perhaps buying my current stadium outright but until then I'll be keeping a close eye on that.


And we win another Manager of the Month award.

Hope you've enjoyed, more to come :)