Sep 25, 2018
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Hello everyone, I'm new on this forum, my name is Icybone, I've been playing Football Manager on and off since FM2004, definitely over 1000 hours on the different editions since then, that's for sure! I've always been into stories, reading them and also writing some, mostly on my favorite FM ever, which was FM08. I've mostly done saves where I was taking control of one club directly, generally an underdog, or a favorite of a lower division. This time I'll be trying something new, with a journeyman save as I've been wanting to try for a long time now.
Below is the first episode of this story, for now it does not have screenshots/pictures but I'll try to add some in my future posts, based on your suggestions. My personal experience is that aside from one or two picture of the rankings or the results, I barely look at pictures when I read stories, definitely not player attributes, as what I like the most in a story is how the writer conveys and spins his achivements/underachievements :) But I definitely will if you want me to ;)
And after this long introduction, let's jump right in with the first episode, have a good read, and thanks so much ;)

Episode 1 - The very beginning:
It all started it August 2018. 28th birthday, unhappy with my current 9 to 5 job, always had been looking for a way to enter the coaching world. Be it with my little brother's team back when he was 12, or with video games, I always though I had some sort of "talent" to make it, probably not as the next Pep or José but enough to make a career out of it. And with my passion for the game, the tactics and all the intricacies, make it a 24/7 career. So here I start, a no badge, no experience dude, leaving his job to give it all and hope for the best. Having on my side a fluent English and generally a good aptitude at learning new languages and adapting to new countries and environments, I figure anywhere in Europe would be a good start. So I start looking through open positions but at this time of the year there aren't many as most championships are just starting. I'll have to be patient...
And patient I've been. After 2 months applying to anything I could find, going to a couple of interview for clubs in Sweden's 3rd division or Slovenia's 2nd, here it is: a club desperate enough to try anything proposes an interview. It's in Ireland, which is good for me because my English is already good enough. We never hear about the performances of Irish clubs on the international stage and the only ones probably known to most are the Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk. So you probably never heard about the last place team of Ireland's 2nd division: Wexford. And that's where my journey will start. It's November, they just finished their season (the Irish division runs from February to November) in 10th and last place of the division, with a worryingly low number of points and goals scored. The interview went well, their only want the team to not finish last the next season and show a more competitive form... I'll see what I can do.
And after just 2 days there it looks that it's gonna be a incredibly difficult challenge. The staff is basically non existent or incompetent, the players are the weakest of the league by far and we barely have enough to cover all positions. Interestingly though, their physical attributes are even worse than their technical ones. We'll go for a short plays tactics and after wanting to try 3-5-2 in my early days due to the lack of full backs, I ended playing most of the season in a flat 4-4-2 or a fairly defensive 4-2-1-2-1 tactics. A decent striker on loan from the Shamrock Rovers will be our only hope at the front while a few additional recruits in the midfield should help keep the ball and maybe snag a few points here and there. After a rough start to the season with barely any points scored, we get our first victory after 6 games. Several close defeats (1-2, 2-3, etc.) follow. It's a shame because we seem to be able to score some goals but our defense is just too weak.
With 10 games to go we're in last place and the president gives me an ultimatum with a 7 points objective to get over the next 5 games. Looking at the calendar it seems like a difficult but not unreasonable task considering we're playing two top 3 teams but also the 3 teams just ahead of us. We win one game, draw another, lose two. It's my last game and if I don't win it, I'll be sacked. We draw 1-1. Without any more conversation I'm sacked and finish my first coaching experience on a rather disappointing failure, Wexford still stuck at the 10th place of Ireland's 2nd division.
Back to the drawing board and the looking for other opportunities. But I've learned a lot from this first experience which wasn't all negative, I think I just never managed to get through to the players...
Episode 2 - A False Start:
So uhm, this first season was quite the failure... I didn't manage to make any progress with the club whatsoever, and I got sacked quite before the end of the season. Of course, my replacement got a surprise triumph over Dundalk in the national Cup just after I left, making it look even worse for me. But they didn't go further, and lost their 5 or 6 last games straight and finished 10th anyways. My replacement even got sacked at the end of the season, the club probably wanting to go for a fresh start for the next one. Anyways, I'm back in my room in Brussels, playing games, going to the gym, scrolling through news website and applying to every possible position on the market. But again, it's September and not many positions are available anyways as most divisions are starting. I get an interview with Obolon-Brewer, a team in the first Ukrainian division, who had disappointing results. It would be a rather big upgrade for me but the interview does not go to well, probably partly due to my incapacity to speak Ukrainian but also because I don't see eye to eye with the president. Oh well...

2 months pass and it is now November 2019 when I get contacted my another Irish club! Who would want to hire me after I miserably failed with the worst semi-professional team in the whole league? Well, turns out I must not have completely sucked after all as I get an interview with another club of the same 2nd division of Ireland, located in the Leinster province this time: Longford. The club had a great start to the season (and beat me both times when I was managing Wexford), being in contention for a play-off spot (it means 2nd to 4th in this second division), before they surprisingly and unexpectedly crashed and burned towards the end, finishing their season with 5 straight losses and only one goal scored... The club ended at a disappointing 6th place, out of contention for the playoffs, and the manager got sacked. The interview goes well, the president is at first hesitant considering my failure at Wexford but also recognizes the weakness of the team I was managing, agrees that the club's management didn't give me enough time to try and rebuild the club and even tells me he thinks I probably did the best I could in the situation I was in. He's interested to go in a different direction for his club, relegated in 2nd division in 2016, and wants to see what a young and hungry coach can bring to the club. The next day, my phone rings, and after a very short phone call I get the job and fly back to Ireland!

The season just ended and the players are about to leave for holidays. I only repeat to them the objective that was given to me by the board: reach the playoffs next season (finish top 4). They think it's reasonable (or they don't care and they just want to leave to somewhere sunny...) and I'm left alone with the staff to prepare as much as possible for the next season. I get two or three members of the staff I hired back at Wexford to join me here, the others should do. Then, looking at the team, the situation looks more promising. We have an okay striker, a really good right winger (for this league, hold your horses), decent midfielders, a good central defender and an okay goalkeeper. With that said, the quality of the players drops pretty quickly after these players and even though the Irish 2nd division isn't known for a quick succession of games, we're still only a semi-professional clubs and it'll be hard to keep up the pace with such a small lot of decent players... But, the club is having financial difficulties, so it won't be possible to recruit much, except a few loan players as the wage budget isn't reached yet. I get on FM, look for players with decent attributes and start calling clubs for loans and players without contract.

After an intense search, I manage to get 5 loan players (I shouldn't have done so so quickly, you'll see why) and 3 or 4 extra non contract players. Pretty happy I managed to reinforce the weakest positions, got a good left winger (what was missing), a good striker and a good advanced midfielder. The state of the defense is bit more questionable but it'll have to do. It's settled, we'll play most of our game in a 4-2-3-1, my favorite tactic, with the RAM and LAM actually playing as inside forwards instead of wingers considering how weak they are at crossings. Plus, I think we have a rather strong midfield and technical level to play a fairly axial a short passing tactic. The success of our season will then depend on how efficient our strikers are and how the defense can hold on. The season starts in a rather shaky fashion. We're pretty good at home, winning most of our games, but struggle for a while to get any points at away games. The worst news is that we lost our best defender on a 6 months injury during a preseason game... Our lowest point is a disappointing 8th sport after a 1-3 home loss against Silgo Rovers. The atmosphere in the team isn't great, some players are unhappy but I didn't make any crazy promises to any player or new recruit so the situation isn't dire just yet. Also we reach the mid-season mercato in 6th but only 4-5 points behind the 2nd as the championship is very close so far this season.

The priority though will be to do anything to reinforce ourselves in defense. I've barely been able to have 4 decent defenders ready to play and been lucky we didn't get any other injury at these positions. The difficulty though, is that I learn only 5 loan MOVEMENTS are allowed per season. One of the loan players I had found early in preseason got outclassed by later arrivals and as I wasn't playing him much, his club recalled him. Another one was doing very well at DC but was only on loan until the mercato (July) and I wasn't able to prolong his loan as he was in an Enlgish club youth team whose next season was about to start... Fortunately, my three other loan players have been our shining lights so far. At central midfield, advanced midfield and striker they've scored several important goals and generally been solid. Finally, we've surprisingly been able to pass the first two round of the Irish League up, even beating a 1st division team although I was playing my B team as the competition wasn't among the board's priorities...

Will we finally be able to be more solid in defense and move to the top of the rankings? What about that Cup run? Stay tuned!