Rags to Riches - From Obscurity to the World Cup

Nov 3, 2016
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Rags to Riches
From Obscurity to the World Cup

This is my tenth year of Football Manager. I remember my first game being fm07 on the xbox360, with Bristol city being my team of choice. I never knew that the success brought from players like Carlos Vela, Igor Akinfeev and Micah Richards would snowball in to ten years worth of enjoyment from one game series.

Ten years seems to me like a good foundation for my first attempt at a thread - I only now feel confident that this years save will be interesting for other people and not just myself. I always set challenges each fm, I mainly target lower league sides in England, with fm15 being Plymouth and fm16 being a very difficult youth challenge with Truro City (only allowed to play with players that come from the youth academy). This year I thought I would stray away from that and challenge myself in other leagues.

So here I am, approaching the overused and overcomplicated Pentagon Challenge.

In case any readers didn't know the aim of this challenge I will briefly explain:

The Overall target of the pentagon challenge differs depending on the person, in this instance I am going to be targeting every champions league trophy (Asia, N America, S America, Europe, Africa) as well as every international tournament (Each Continent + World Cup). The trick is, I will start in obscurity, with no coaching badges and no prior playing experience - I will also start unemployed.

This Challenge always sounds impossible, it is a new year however and I am fully up for the task! I will be back shortly with my first post - including my database, manager and initial aims! Please if you are interested or want to give some advice on my first moves in this challenge, drop them below as I really feel help is going to be vital in this stories progression!


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Well this is it! Hopefully I will never have to see this image for too long and a new job will be right around the corner. It is quite weird to think that I don't really have an idea on how tough it will be to find a new job, however, with my large database and large amount of open leagues (See Below) I'm sure I can find one somewhere!

Although this all seems a bit too much, I feel completely unsure as to what continent would be the easiest to settle into first, with my ultimate aim of winning it's most coveted trophy. My initial thoughts are that jobs in South Africa, India and China will be easier to find due to all three having weaker leagues which contain mostly one and a half star teams. These leagues are where I will aim to start.

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Having filtered out all the nations I don't want to manage in, I am left with these jobs available. While I would love to manage in the top league of Korea, I feel it is a bit too ambitious right now and would be a waste of time. Therefore three teams are left: Daegu, Zhicheng and Witbank Spurs.

I'm going to apply for all three, and will post up if I get any interview opportunities! Please reply any preferences you guys might have - they will be much appreciated |)

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Well it’s a busy day ahead! I was in no way expecting all three clubs to come back with an interview request that quickly. I guess I will need to make a quick decision on which job I want to chase!

Guizhou Zhicheng
Wow, I never realised that this team were second in their league with 14 games already played! This is a definite positive, however, this is quite a lot of pressure for my first attempt in the Chinese league – especially considering they are predicted 6th​ and it will be harder to maintain their current form than see it decrease!

But just imagine silverware in my first season as a clubs manager?? It will definitely help me progress towards the gold-standard Asian league (The K-League Classic) a lot quicker than expected.

Daegu FC
Another high placed team in an Asian league. The biggest positive here is the strength of the league that a promotion could delve the team into. Although it will be really tough this is a great opportunity to quickly stamp my name on the world of football.

They also have a reasonably good player in Paulo Sérgio, which will offer me a great attacking option immediately – allowing my tactics to be more focused in improving other areas of the pitch.

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Witbank Spurs
This offer is probably the least appealing to me as I feel the Asian champion’s league is a lot more achievable than the African alternative. This could be a huge mistake as the African CPL logically should be the easiest trophy to start with due to it having a lower worldwide reputation. However despite this, I believe that teams like Orlando, Sundowns and Kaiser Chiefs are the only teams that will be capable of winning the continental cup in short notice, and all three of these would require the manager to have prior trophy-winning experience before joining.

This has to be my main aim – succeed in the more competitive leagues in Asia and afterwards take charge of a major South African team. I feel that any team in the African league would take at least five seasons to get close to the firepower readily available at Kaiser Chiefs.

Despite this, I will still attend the interview and acceptthe job if I am declined by the other two. Hopefully at least one team will see their future being led by Robert Dyer – The young hotshot manager.

Thanks Again!
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Yep, still unemployed. I feel quite daft now believing that I really had a chance with any of those three teams – considering I have no playing experience or coaching badges. I couldn’t even speak the language in two of the countries!

There is a glimmer of hope however, in every story there is a moral and I believe this one is to start at the bottom. I can’t be picky with what team to manage and I will really have to start scraping the barrel. My bets on me eventually managing in either the dark corners of China or dare I say it…

The Indian National league!

There is only one team available that I feel is worth a shot at the moment, Hunan Xiangtao.

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Yep, I’ve never heard of them either… Although I am quite optimistic about my chances of getting the hot seat! They are currently bottom of the Chinese Second league and don’t look to be in any good run of form – perhaps I am the gamble that the club need in order to turn their fortunes upside down?

I feel that if they also give me the thumbs down, I may just start spamming clubs with job applications. Needless to say, I will return next time with a new contract - hopefully in football management and not a McDonalds drive-thru.

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A contract has been signed! Gyeongnam Fc is the destination of choice*. A team currently lying in 7th place in the K-League Challenge a season after relegation. This is an exciting time so I will quickly provide you, the reader, with a brief overview of everything this club has to offer in terms of facilities, objectives, squad and staff.

*there was literally no choice – they were only team who would have me

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The Club's current facilities, they are actually better than I expected - I guess that's probably because it's a relatively new club though:

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During the interview process, no initial targets or philosophies were put in place – this job sounds like a perfect starting point for any management career!

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I’ll be back soon with some more interesting details,including staff changes, the current squad, training and tactics.
I will ask however, with the very little information you have - is Gyeongnam going to end up being a good choice or should I have waited for a different opportunity?

Thanks Again!

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My first attempt at a banner. I think the nickname ‘the Roses’ is awesome and I may just refer to the club as that from now on.

I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time both reviewing and analysing the current squad I am working with. If I have missed anything out which was worth mentioning – please just say :)


This is probably the easiest position to choose for me at the moment – although a position which also needs a large amount of strengthening by the start of next season. Currently I have only two real options to choose from: Ha Kang-Jin and Lee Jun-Hee

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Ha Kang-Jin Pro’s:

·Better distribution (Apart from passing = 1!!)
·More experienced due to age
·Slightly better Positioning, Handling andcommand of area
·Has a contract with the club (not on loan)

Lee Jun-Hee Pro’s:

·Better reflexes
·Mentally seems more suitable for the role
·Has been playing as no.1 most of the season
·Coach’s view him as the better option

After comparing the two, it seems quite an even battle – with Ha Kang-Jin seeming the more capable shot stopper while Lee Jun-Hee the more capable player mentally. This is one of those occasions where my first team choice is made by my backroom staff. Lee Jun-Hee is recommended to start and is a whole star better than Kang-Jin – although he is currently on loan to my club and will need to be replaced for next season.


I think the most suitable defensive line will be the usual four at the back. I think this season that tactics will far surpass the importance of player quality – something which seems very usual in lower leagues.In football manager I usually like to play higher defensive lines in a possession oriented style of play, however, I feel that a more structured defensive approach will prove more rewarding.

Full Backs

There is only really one standout player in this position – Ivan Herceg, the first of the clubs four foreign players. The right-backposition is only one of three positions he is accomplished in, as he can also play centre-back and defensive midfielder. Where he will play for me is unknown at the moment, although it is worth mentioning that he has mostly played full back this season, with an average rating of 7.01.

He will definitely prove valuable in my first couple of seasons:

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There is one good competitor for this position – Park Ji-Su –a promising defender who can also play at centre back. I am certain he will eventually be in the starting line-up however at present only really challenges Ivan Herceg in heading, tackling and Marking (three very important attributesf or a defender). He will definitely be useful back-up or alternatively could beplaced in a centre back slot.

The left back position is a lot more difficult, the standout player is probably Park Joo-Sung, who has played there throughout the season sofar. He seems to prefer playing defensively - although when reviewing his attributes, his defensive capabilities seem to be outshone by his attacking. An example would be his 14 long shots (his highest attribute). Usually I would attempt to train him to play in a wing back role but as he is 32, I feel I would rather just test him in a few games and see how he handles different strategies.

In terms of back up, only 36 year-old Jin Kyiung-Sun, the captain of the team, is capable of playing left-back. Although he predominately should be either a wing-back or a defensive midfielder. A better alternative would be promoting the pacey left-back Jeon Sang-Hoon from the reserves to main-team, although his technical ability leaves a lot to be desired.

Centre Backs

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Yeo Sung-Hye! You are really going to have to improve those performances to get in the squad! At 29 years old, Yeo should be at the peak of his powers and will be vital in the defensive structure of the team. He is actually quite fast for this level and has some above average defensive attributes. One major downfall however is his mental game – such low levels of Determination, Aggression and Concentration can majorly affect his performance –primarily in big fixtures. This isn’t very reassuring as he is the vice-captain of the team

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The second best centre back is clearly Song Ju-Han. When comparing both these centre-backs it actually seems that Song Jun-Han will prove more valuable this season, he is only 23 and is pretty much dominant in every aspect of the game. I think he will definitely be a mainstay.

Apart from these two player I am drawn back to the two right backs previously mentioned. I feel that the mental stability of the 22 year-old Park Ji-Su, along with his obvious potential, may seem him steal a centre back slot before the season is over.


This is where the tactics are under question. This season the team has primarily played 4-4-2. I think this was a shambolic decision from the previous manager and this overview of the midfielders should explain why.
I'll Start with the Central Players (CDM,CM,CAM):

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When only looking at the players whose best role fill the central positions, a couple of players stand out. Firstly the loanee Jang Eun-Kyu, who can play both cdm or cm. When reviewing his attributes he definitely lives up to his preferred rold of advanced playmaker – his vision, passing and technique offer a valuable skill set capable of dictating the midfields tempo. I will state that his defensive abilities are a bit too lowfor him to be considered as a defensive midfielder.

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There is another player who seems capable of dictating the tempo – Attacking Midfielder Ivan Markovic. Unlike Jang Eun-Kyu, Markovic has a set position, making it harder for him to fit into the bigger picture whenmaking tactics. He does, however, seem like more of a goal scoring threat – he is a definite option but has played very little this year and may need to be brought into the squad gradually at this point in the season.

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There is definitely no lack of depth in the middle of the pitch and more defensive minded midfielders are also present. Ivan Herceg, Park Tae-Woong, Nam Kwang-Hyun and Jin Kyiung-Sun offer decent stability in themiddle of the pitch. While technically-gifted Lim Chang-Gyoon also gives another attacking threat if needed.

Wide Players (MR,ML,LW,RW)

There is only one notable player out wide – Song Su-Yung – an average winger that can play on both sides. He doesn’t necessarily shine in any aspect of the game but will definitely offer a role in the squad if given the chance. He has had an average season so far as well, with 2 goals and five assists with an average league rating of 6.79.

I don't know what else to say, he is just... Average...

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There are a few other wide players which offer depth inthese roles:

1. Lee Sang-Hyub – A left winger who is also a natural striker. He has played the majority of this season but has been unremarkable, offering 3 goals and 1 assist in 26 league appearances.

2. Ahn Sung-Nam – A right footed left winger who likes to cut in. His best quality is probably his crossing which makes his preferred role as an inside forward quite confusing. If he was to play he would only be backup as he he hasn’t played much this season and doesn’t look as good as the previously mentioned players.

3. Bae Ki-Jong – the only out and out right winger available – he is deemed a good player for this league but at 33 years old, doesn’t show enough technically to make up for his loss in physical attributes.


Here is the exciting part! The strikers available show the most quality and depth throughout the whole team.

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Cristian Dănălache. The clubs key player and top goalscorer (second top goal scorer in the league also). This player is going to be a key player for the next season as well and will be the main focal point in attack.

What is most impressive is the fact he is 33 years old yet still possesses good physical attributes. He is a tall target man but also possesses better dribbling and flair than most of the team – he is definitely going to be a key player.

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Only two other players are worth noting as strikers. The first is the previously mentioned Lee Sang-Hyub who favours the defensive forward position. This could be useful if playing two strikers – which seems very plausible at this point. His technical attributes are very promising as as triker but he is a bit underwhelming physically when compared to Dănălache.

Everton is the other player worth mentioning. This Brazilian seems very capable of finishing with both high finishing and decisions, although his passing and teamwork may let him down in a partnered strikeforce.

Complete Squad with Reports

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There you have it, the complete breakdown of the Roses squad! Sorry for the huge post but I feel the detail levels are quite good.

I am currently thinking of playing 4-1-2-1-2 narrow, although any opinions on this are greatly appreciated!

Thanks for reading,

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I've always fancied doing the pentagon challenge, but I usually get sacked lol
I've always fancied doing the pentagon challenge, but I usually get sacked lol

Haha, maybe you should start one now - i'd be happy to help out with any questions and everything. I am already enjoying this save more than most others I have ever done!

Thanks for the message :)
Hi Guys, just a heads up. I am unable to post my story at the moment as the site is not allowing my posts to send due to a check up to see whether I am a spammer - because I am a new user.

I think it would work if I wait a little while but unfortunately I don't want my story to lose it's momentum, and I really want to progress now!

Sorry, I will be back, hopefully later today or tomorrow!

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Now that the full squad has been reviewed, I want to firstly summarise a few key points about where I feel it needs to be strengthened and where it is at its strongest already. This list may well change once a few games have been played.

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Firstly, I want to point out who will be vital in the team:

  • Ivan Herceg – Having a player who can play two positions in defence as well as a position in midfield is always a great asset. This is a player who I think will remain in the team for a couple of seasons.

  • Park Ji Su – Another player who can play two different positions in defence, but what this player lacks in current ability he makes up for in his potential – being touted by the backroom staff as a player who will surpass everyone else in the club. I think this player can become a legend for the Roses.

  • Ivan Markovic – This player was practically unused by the previous manager, which I think will prove to be a mistake once he gets into the team. He possesses all the characteristics on a solid attacking midfielder and has age on his side.

  • Everton – It’s always nice having a Brazilian striker, especially when he shows physical maturity and technical ability. Everton is a tough one to put on this list as he has good competition for the striker spot, although his potential suggests I best get him into the team sooner rather than later.

  • Cristian Dănălache – Nothing really needs to be said, he is the clubs top goalscorer and has a high average rating. He is the main man at the moment although his age (34) may prove to be a stumbling block soon – it might be worth looking for another striker to develop.

In terms of weaknesses in the squad, I am only going to address first team players which need to be replaced as I think everyone in the club are capable squad players:

  • Ye Sung-Hye – This is a shame, as this player has the attributes to be a really good player at this level. Despite this, to be a centre back under Robert Dyer, you need to have high match ratings - and his are very low (6.46).
  • Park Joo-Sung – At 30 years old, this player isn’t young enough to improve drastically, meaning his 3-star rating is a bit too low to be considered a long term solution for the left back slot.
  • Jin Kyiung-Sun – A wing back/CDM player, quite an unusual combination. This 36 year old has been named as my captain, although that will proably change next season. I respect the fact he is the best leader in the squad and also has the best C.V – spending most of his career in the K-league classic, although he is going to have to play a rotation role most of this season.

Now that I have identified my best and worse players, I thought tactics is the next talking point. I have opted for a 4-1-2-1-2 diamons formation, playing very narrow with two central midfielders.

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This of course means that my wide players are no longer that useful – although they do offer a plan B which is always nice. In fact part of the reason I chose this formation was that one of my better wingers Lee Sang-Hyub, is a natural striker also.

There are a few talking points with the player roles, I have decided to try out the enganche role for the first time, as I don’t like using two advanced playmakers. The enganche role has been put there for Markovic to fall in to. I believe his playmaking skills as well as his technique on the ball makes this role an ideal fit.

Other decisions are quite straightforward – I am using both a Target Man and Poacher up front as my depth in that position is too good to not use. I am also using a CDM, this is going to be on trial for the rest of this season, hopefully between Jin Kyiung-Sun and Park Tae-Woong I can find a player who can take control of that third of the pitch. This uncertainty is the main reason I am also playing a ball winning midfielder in central midfield – mainly to add support when in defence.

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This is where the tactic gets interesting. I am using a control mentality with a structured team shape. This is only because I trust my attacking player to get the goals without any help from deeper midfielders or full backs, vice-versa in defence.

I usually play high defensive lines in football manager but I have decided that I need to shore up the back line and try and get some clean sheets. I have dropped them deeper and may try to use tighter marking in certain games.

I am going to try and play some nice football on the ground, I am asking the defenders to play it out of defence – this isn’t as risky as it sounds as I have a cdm back to help out – as well as a defensive entral midfielder (BWM). I have asked the ball to get played out quickly and more direct however, with Markovic and Dănălache both playing in roles designed to hold the ball up for overlapping midfielders/strikers.

Anyway, that is the Roses main tactic for the rest of the season – I do ask however, would it be worth it to make a couple of back-up tactics and if yes, what should they be?

Thanks For Reading!
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Here we go! My first few games as manager. I have been handed a hard run of games to start with. with Daegu FC the first. This is a great redemption story for me as a manager - as Daegu were one of the few teams that rejected my application to be their manager. After them I have second placed Daejeon,last placed Anyang and then league leaders Gangwon.

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I think this is a good time to admit my mistakes. I have spent my last few posts stating my preferred players and who I think will be key players in my squad. What I severely overlooked is the registration rules for the K-League

Unfortunately only three foreign players can be placed in the match squad, with a fourth available but only if they are Asian. This means that I will have to drop either Everton, Danalache, Markovic or Herceg. One will also be leaving at the end of the season.

Game One – Daegu Fc

A team that is level on points with us before the game – as previously mentioned this is also a team that denied me the chance of managing them! This is a good chance to try out my new tactic.

My starting eleven was quite predictable although Markovic was out of the match squad. Park Ji-Su got to start this game due to the fitness levels of the other options. Captain Jin Kyiung-Sun also got a rare start in cdm, with Everton also getting inly his 6th start of the season

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A great 3-0 win, with me eating my words from the last post as Park Joo-Sung gets man of the match with twoassists. The goals came from Ball-Winning Midfielder Park Tae-Woong, super sub Lee Sang-Hyub and also Everton, who took his rare opportunity by banging in a goal.

A great start for the club.

Game 2 – Daejeon

A tougher test for the second game, Daejeon are comfortably in second place and had only lost ten games all season. Everton missed this game and Markovic came in.

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A fair result, if anything we were just on top in terms of possession and chances created. Goals were scored by the man of the match Park Tae-Woong (again??) and Lee Sang-Hyub, who has also scored two goals for me so far.

Not the best possible result but against a top side, coming back from behind twice shows excellent character (insert Brendan Rodgers joke here)

Game 3 – Anyang

Game 3 saw a comfortable 3-1 win against bottom team Anyang, goals from attacking midfielder Lim Chang-Gyoon (MOM), Everton and Danalache made it an easy day at the office. Park Tae-Woong kept up his great from by providing an assist.

Game 4 – Gangwon

This is the big one! A big test for the team - playing at home against the league leaders. Gangwon are easily the best team in the league and provided stubborn opposition.

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After a very even game, a 1-1 draw is a fair result. Danalache got a late goal which was well deserved - after conceding from a set-piece. Although the ratings suggest otherwise, I want to give honourable mention to Park Ji-Su and Park Joo-Sung, who had a hard game against the wide players from Gangwon, although held their defensive structure well – only receiving a yellow card each for professional fouls.

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Getting 8 points from those four games is a huge result considering we played against the top two teams. Only easier opposition are ahead and the team are now sitting in a playoff space.

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Two very important games next –against both the 4th and 3rd placed teams. Wish me luck!

Thanks for Reading