May 14, 2018
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I've been playing Football Manager on the PC for nearly two decades now. What started off as a mistake by a cashier at Blockbuster (I tried to rent Toy Story 2 and got a Football Management game instead) developed into an eighteen year passion. I've had so many amazing games. Like when I went unbeaten for two seasons in a row with CSKA Moscow. Or when I guided Solihull Moors to 7th in the Premier League signing only players from the local area (or those who had played for local teams) and spending a whopping £0 on transfer fees in eight seasons there. I've won titles in far off lands, the Middle East, South America, New Zealand, almost everywhere. There is no continental trophy I have not won.

It's hard for me to find a new game, a new challenge. I'll often start a game, do the transfers and then quit. I need something with a long term aim to keep me focused.

I had a Football Manager save game many years ago (I wanna say 2011?) where I took over as manager of the Qatari national team with the intention of guiding them to victory in the 2022 World Cup which they would host. This was so long ago that the plan was still for a summer World Cup and Sports Interactive had not yet programmed the game to move the tournament to Morocco or Canada or whoever gets it in your save. The standard of players in the Q-League was terrible to say the least and my initial plan to sign Brazilian kids to the Qatari league to nationalise ahead of the tournament proved more difficult than I had hoped. I made it to about 2018 and gave up.

That's one of those games that I look back on with regret. I have many Football Manager regrets. I regret that I never played as the Ajax team circa 2007 with De Jong, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Huntelaar. Or that time I resigned as Birmingham City manager after winning the title with two games to spare and my assistant won Manager of the Year for those last two games...I also wish I had gotten around to playing as Chivas USA in the MLS before they were disbanded in 2013. That had always seemed like a sweet challenge: being the Mexican team in the United States. I've played as Toronto FC since then and enjoyed it but I wanted to build that Latino flavour team in LA.

I remember thinking during the 2006 World Cup how good a 'West Indies Team' would be. Good. Not great, but surely more than the sum of its parts. I tried to make it happen but it was too big an editing job to change the nationalities of EVERY carribean player. And then there would be regens, and empty national teams, qualifiers against other Carribean countries... it was just too hard to implement.

So I've taken all these regrets and ideas and smushed them together into a new long term Football Manager challenge:

Win the World Cup with Jamaica.
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July 2016

I have started the game as custom club, Reggae Boyz FC, who will play in the MLS from 2017 in the place of Atlanta City. The club is based in the Jamaican capital Kingston and will play their home games at Independence Park: home of the Jamaican national team.

All staff and players who were contracted to Atlanta City have been released and the club has been stripped bare. The new owners have committed an impressive $50million into the club coffers and made $30m available for player recruitment. This may seem like a lot of money to build an MLS club from the bottom up but with the restrictive transfer rules and the salary cap building a competitive team will not be an easy task.

The club has average at best training facilities and this will need to improve quickly if we are to achieve our long term goals, domestically and internationally. Many of the bigger clubs in the MLS have better facilities than we do and thus can attract better players. As well as purchasing an MLS franchise Reggae Boyz FC have established a sort of youth / B-team in the Jamaican 2nd Division called "Reggae Juniors". The long term aim is to develop Jamaica's youth prospects and mould the future of the national team.

Much like the Canadian teams playing in the MLS Reggae Boyz FC will not participate in the MLS Cup and will instead compete in the Jamaican Football Federation Cup. 'The Rhythm' will also take part in the Carribean Champions Cup the winner of whom qualifies for the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League: the biggest club trophy available in North America.

And win some trophies of course.
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July 2016

Everyone knows that the MLS has complicated rules and I've played here a few times over the years and always find the league an interesting one to play as. The salary cap only applies to players who are registered in your playing roster for the season. This means that non-playing staff (coaches, scouts, physios et al) are excluded from the wage cap so we took advantage of this by hiring a bunch of new coaches.

The new backroom team consists of former Jamaican internationals Ricardo Gardner, Darren Moore, Micah Hyde and Nyron Nosworthy under the new assistant manager Dwight Yorke. As players they boast over 500 international appearances and a long association with the Premier League and English football. The hope is that the chance to work with big name coaches will help us attract players currently based in Europe.

Normally an MLS club can sign a maximum of six Discovery Players a season. These are players joining the club from outside of the league. Trading for players currently based in the MLS is difficult, you have to trade players, international slots, superdraft picks or allocation money. Note though that I say 'normally'. As an expansion club we aren't technically in the MLS yet so the discovery players rule does not affect us until December.

The salary cap does not affect us yet either. But it will: When we join the MLS next season. The entire roster must earn less than $3.7million p/a. With a maximum squad size of 28 this averages out to a little over $130kp/w per player. Attracting quality players will cost much more than this. To put that into European terms we are talking about trying to sign players on wages of around £2kp/w.

It is possible to register up to 8 off-budget players. These are guys who are on Senior Minimum Salaries, reserve contract or have Generation Adidas contracts. Filling these SMS slots is a great technique for keeping under the salary cap as either wages are not counted.

GK - Dwayne MILLER - unattached - free
GK - Donovan RICKETTS - unattached - free
DF - Jlloyd SAMUEL - unattached - free
DF - Jermaine TAYLOR - unattached- free
MF - Khari STEPHENSON - unattached - free

With a combined age of 159 these five players will hopefully bring a level of experience and professionalism to the club. Perhaps more importantly they do not apply to the salary cap and which means I have 23 slots left on the roster and still the full salary cap to work with.

The scouting reports from the Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League were starting to come in. There were a number of decent players in the league and without going into too much detail I snapped up 14 young players. These players cost us a combined transfer fee of $28k and contribute just $840kp/a towards the salary cap. This was enough to give us a basic full starting XI and a few substitutes.

This leaves us with slightly less than $2.9 million of the salary cap to flesh out this skeleton squad with some key players on higher wages.